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H  &  -  *  . 

AN 

EXPOSITION 

OF  THE 

Old  and  New  Testament: 

■ 

WHEREIN 


EACH  CHAPTER  IS  SUMMED  UP  IN  ITS  CONTENTS  ;  THE  SACRED  TEXT  INSERTED 
AT  LARGE,  IN  DISTINCT  PARAGRAPHS ;  EACH  PARAGRAPH  REDUCED 
TO  ITS  PROPER  HEADS ;  THE  SENSE  GIVEN, 

AND  LARGELY  ILLUSTRATED ; 


WITH 

PRACTICAL  REMARKS  AND  OBSERVATIONS: 


BY  MATTHEW  HENRY, 

LATE  MINISTER  OF  THE  GOSPEL. 


A  NEW  EDITION: 

EDITED  BY 

THE  REV.  GEORGE  BURDER,  AND  THE  REV.  JOSEPH  HUGHES,  A.  M. 

WITH  THE 

LIFE  OF  THE  AUTHOR, 

BY  THE 

BEV.  SAMUEL  PALMER, 


VOL.  VI. 


PHILADELPHIA : 

ED.  BARRINGTON  &  GEO.  D.  HAS  WELL, 

MARKET  STREET. 


. 


4  « 


•  ■  -  .  ■  ■ 
> 

' 


*  .  * 


...  .  lit  v>  t.  til 

- 


•V  *  1 


v-..  '  •  ■  •  >:■.  •  ;  ' 


W  Nl  ^ 

•Vi.-  .  .t  •«  t»< 


AN 

EXPOSITION, 


WITH 


PRACTICAL  OBSERVATIONS, 


ON  THE 


REMAINING  BOOKS 


OF  THE 

NEW  TESTAMENT; 


NAMELY, 


THE  ACTS  OF  THE 

II.  TIMOTHY, 

APOSTLES, 

TITUS, 

ROMANS, 

PHILEMON, 

T.  CORINTHIANS, 

HEBREWS, 

11.  CORINTHIANS, 

JAMES, 

GALATIANS, 

I.  PETER, 

EPHESIANS, 

II.  PETER, 

PHILIPPIANS, 

I.  JOHN, 

COLOSSIANS, 

II.  JOHN, 

I.  THESSALONIANS, 

ill.  JOHN, 

II.  THESSALONIANS, 

JUDE,  AND  THE 

1.  TIMOTHY, 

REVELATION. 

fW QITA  imiMQ  Ji  JIT  Ii  5t*I 


U  N  I  /a 


>;  w.o.rr  -)Ai  : f .M'lr-ui 


h(i  i:'  »<>. 


r  /:  m  if  /  t  8  k  t  wi 


. 

'A  i  L 

.  ,  !.■■:; 

;  A :  '  /  i 

.yjfui  .i 
./iu  .  .H 

.m , 

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i  v 


;{  AAV-V/f 


3ip.T  *  *  •]  .»•;  :  fiT 

,k  tv!  '()'»/. 

.  ,  ■  i  ■ 

■  - 

!/ 

.  ,  15.  . 

*•  -r\l<n 

;,u  ht  .•! 

.d-y  Ai/J:  1/  T  .5! 

f/ilTOl/l]  A 


AN 


EXPOSITION, 


WITH 


PRACTICAL  OBSERVATIONS, 


OF  THE 


ACTS  OF  THE  APOSTLES. 


We  have  with  an  abundant  satisfaction  seen  the  foundation  of  our  holy  religion  laid  in  the  history  of  our 
blessed  Saviour,  its  great  Author,  which  was  related  and  left  upon  record  by  four  several  inspired 
writers,  who  all  agree  in  this  sacred  truth,  and  the  incontestable  proofs  of  it,  That  Jesus  is  the  Christ , 
the  Son  of  the  living  God .  Upon  this  rock  the  Christian  church  is  built ;  and  how  it  began  to  be  built 
upon  this  rock,  comes  next  to  be  related  in  this  book  which  we  have  now  before  us.  Of  this  we  have 
the  testimony  only  of  one  witness ;  for  the  matters  of  fact  concerning  Christ,  were  much  more  necessary 
to  be  fully  related  and  attested  than  those  concerning  the  apostles.  Had  Infinite  Wisdom  seen  fit,  we 
might  have  had  as  many  books  of  the  Acts  of  the  Apostles  as  we  have  Gospels,  nay,  as  we  might  have 
had  Gospels  ;  but,  for  tear  of  overburthening  the  world,  (John  21.  25.)  we  nave  sufficient  to  answer  the 
end,  if  we  will  but  make  use  of  it. 

The  history  of  this  book  (which  was  always  received  as  a  part  of  the  sacred  canon)  may  be  considered, 

I.  As  looking  back  to  the  preceding  gospels,  giving  light  to  them,  and  greatly  assisting  our  faith  in  them. 
The  promises  there  made,  we  here  find  made  good ;  particularly  the  great  promise  of  the  descent  of  the 
Holy  Ghost,  and  his  wonderful  operations,  both  on  the  apostles,  (whom  here  in  a  few  days  we  find  quite 
other  men  than  what  the  gospels  left  them  ;  no  longer  weak-headed  and  weak-hearted,  but  able  to  say  that 
which  then  they  were  not  able  to  bear,  (John  16.  12. )  and  bold  as  lions  to  face  those'hardships  which  then 
as  lambs  they  trembled  at  the  thought  of,)  and  also  with  the  apostles,  making  the  word  mighty  to  the 
pulling  down  of  Satan's  strong  holds,  which  had  been  before  comparatively  preached  in  vain.  The 
commission  there  granted  to  the  apostles  we  here  find  executed,  and  the  powers  there  lodged  in  them 
exerted  in  miracles  wrought  on  the  bodies  of  people — miracles  of  mercy,  restoring  sick  bodies  to  health, 
and  dead  bodies  to  life — miracles  of  judgment,  striking  rebels  blind  or  dead  ;  and  much  greater  miracles 
wrought  on  the  minds  of  people,  in  conferring  spiritual  gifts  upon  them,  both  of  understanding  and  ut¬ 
terance  ;  and  this  in  pursuance  of  Christ’s  purposes,  and  in  performance  of  his  promises,  which  we  had 
in  the  gospels.  The  proofs  of  Christ’s  resurrection,  which  the  gospels  closed  with,  are  here  abundantly 
corroborated,  not  only  by  the  constant  and  undaunted  testimony  of  those  that  conversed  with  him  after 
he  rose,  (who  had  all  deserted  him,  and  one  of  them  denied  him,  and  would  not  otherwise  have  been 
rallied  again  but  by  his  resurrection,  but  must  have  been  irretrievably  dispersed,  and  yet  by  that  were 
enabled  to  own  him  more  resolutely  than  ever,  in  defiance  of  bonds  and  deaths,)  but  by  the  working  of 
the  Spirit  with  that  testimony  for  the  conversion  of  multitudes  to  the  faith  of  Christ,  according  to  the 
word  of  Christ,  that  his  resurrection,  the  sign  of  the  prophet  Jonas,  which  was  reserved  to  the  last, 
should  be  the  most  convincing  proof  of  his  divine  mission.  Christ  had  told  his  disciples  that  they  should 
be  his  witnesses,  and  this  book  brings  them  in  witnessing  for  him  ;  that  they  should  be  fshers  of  men, 
and  here  we  have  them  enclosing  multitudes  in  the  gospel-net ;  that  they  should  be  the  lights  of  the 
world,  and  here  we  have  the  world  enlightened  by  them  ;  but  that  day-spring  from  on  high  which  we 
there  discerned  in  the  first  appearing  of,  we  here  find  shining  more  and  more.  The  corn  of  wheat, 
which  there  fell  to  the  ground,  here  springs  up  and  bears  much  fruit ;  the  .gram  of  mustard-seed  there 
is  here  a  great  tree  ;  and  the  kingdom  of  heaven,  which  was  then  at  hand,  is  here  set  up.  Christ’s  pre¬ 
dictions  of  the  virulent  persecutions  which  the  preachers  of  his  gospel  should  be  afflicted  with  (though 
one  could  not  have  imagined  that  a  doctrine  so  well  worthy  of  all  acceptation  should  meet  with  so  much 
opposition)  we  here  find  abundantly  fulfilled,  and  also  the  assurances  he  gave  them  of  extraordinary 
supports  and  comforts  under  their  sufferings.  Thus,  as  the  latter  part  of  the  history  of  the  Old  Testa¬ 
ment  verifies  the  promises  made  to  the  fathers  in  the  former  jiart,  (as  appears  by  that  famous  and  solemn 
acknowledgment  of  Solomon’s,  which  runs  like  a  receipt  in  full,  1  Kings  8.  56.  There  has  not.  faded 
one  word  of  all  his  good  promise  which  he  promised  by  the  hand  of  Moses  his  servant,)  so  the  latter  part 
of  the  history  of  the  New  Testament  exactly  answers  to  the  word  of  Christ  in  the  former  part  of  it  :  and 
thus  they  mutually  confirm  and  illustrate  each  other. 

II.  As  looking  forward  to  the  following  epistles,  which  are  an  explication  of  the  gospels,  which  open  the 
mystery  of  Christ’s  death  and  resurrection,  the  history  whereof  we  had  in  the  gospels.  ^  This  book  in¬ 
troduces  them,  and  is  a  key  to  them,  as  the  history  of  David  is  to  David’s  psalms.  We  are  members 
of  the  Christian  church,  that  tabernacle  of  God  among  men,  and  it  is  our  honour  and  privilege  that  we 
are  so.  Now  this  book  gives  us  an  account  of  the  framing  and  rearing  of  that  tabernacle.  The  four 
gospels  shewed  us  how  the  foundation  of  that  house  was  laid  ;  this  shews  us  how  the  superstructure  be¬ 
gan  to  be  raised.  1.  Among  the  Jews  and  Samaritans,  which  we  have  an  account  of  in  the  former  part 


6 


THE  ACTS. 


of  this  book.  2.  Among  the  Gentiles,  which  we  have  an  account  of  in  the  latter  part :  from  thence, 
and  downward  to  our  own  day,  we  find  the  Christian  church  subsisting  in  a  visible  profession  of  faith  in 
Christ,  as  the  Son  of  God  and  Saviour  of  the  world,  made  by  his  baptized  disciples,  incorporated  into 
religious  societies,  statedly  meeting  in  religious  assemblies,  attending  on  the  apostles’  doctrine,  and  join¬ 
ing  in  prayer  and  breaking  of  bread,  under  the  conduct  and  precedency  of  men  that  gave  themselves  to 
prayer  and  the  ministry  of  the  word,  and  in  a  spiritual  communion  with  all  in  every  place  that  do  like¬ 
wise.  Such  a  body  as  this  there  is  now  in  the  world,  which  we  belong  to :  and,  to  our  great  satisfaction 
and  honour,  in  this  book  we  find  the  rise  and  original  of  it,  vastly  different  from  the  Jewish  church,  and 
erected  upon  its  ruins  ;  but  undeniably  appearing  to  be  of  God,  and  not  of  man.  With  what  confidence 
and  comfort  may  we  proceed  in,  and  adhere  to,  our  Christian  profession,  as  far  as  we  find  it  agrees  wiih 
this  fiattern  in  the  mount ;  to  which  we  ought  religiously  to  conform  and  confine  ourselves. 

Two  things  more  are  to  be  observed  concerning  this  book.  (1.)  The  penman  of  it.  It  was  written  by 
Luke,  who  wrote  the  third  of  the  four  gospels,  which  bears  his  name ;  and  who  (as  the  learned  Ur. 
Whitby  shews)  was,  very  probably,  one  of  the  seventy  disciples,  whose  commission  (Luke  10.  1,  &c.) 
was  little  inferior  to  that  of  the  twelve  apostles.  This  Luke  was  very  much  a  companion  of  Paul  in  his 
services  and  sufferings.  Only  Luke  is  with  me ,  2  Tim.  4.  11.  We  may  know  by  his  style  in  the  latter 
part  of  this  book,  when  and  where  he  was  with  him,  for  then  he  writes,  We  did  so  and  so,  as  ch.  16.  10. 
— 20.  6.  and  from  thenceforward  to  the  end  of  the  book.  He  was  with  Paul  in  his  dangerous  voyage  to 
Rome,  when  he  was  carried  thither  a  prisoner  ;  was  with  him  when  from  his  prison  there  he  wrote  his 
epistles  to  the  Colossians  and  Philemon,  in  both  which  he  is  named.  And  it  should  seem  that  St.  Luke 
wrote  this  history  when  he  was  with  St.  Paul  at  Rome,  during  his  imprisonment  there,  and  was  assistant 
to  him  ;  for  the  history  concludes  with  St.  Paul’s  preaching  there  in  his  own  hired  house.  (2. )  The  title 
of  it ;  The  Acts  of  the  Afiostles  ;  of  the  holy  Afiostles,  so  the  Greek  copies  generally  read  it,  and  so  they 
are  called,  Rev.  18.  20.  Rejoice  over  her,  ye  holy  afiostles.  One  copy  inscribes  it,  The  Acts  of  the 
Afiostles  by  Luke  the  Evangelist.  [1.]  It  is  the  history  of  the  apostles ;  yet  here  is  in  it  the  history  of 
Stephen,  Barnabas,  and  some  other  apostolical  men,  who,  though  not  of  the  twelve,  were  indued  with 
the  same  Spirit,  and  employed  in  the  same  work.  And  of  those  that  were  apostles,  it  is  the  history  of 
Peter  and  Paul  only  that  is  here  recorded  ;  (and  Paul  was  now  of  the  twelve  ;)  Peter  the  apostle  of  the 
circumcision,  and  Paul  the  apostle  of  the  Gentiles,  Gal.  2.  7.  But  this  suffices  as  a  specimen  of  what 
the  rest  did  in  other  places,  pursuant  to  their  commission,  for  they  were  none  of  them  idle.  And  as  we 
are  to  think  what  is  related  in  the  gospels  concerning  Christ  sufficient,  because  Infinite  Wisdom  thought 
so,  the  same  we  are  to  think  here  concerning  what  is  related  of  the  apostles,  and  their  labours ;  for  what 
more  is  told  us  from  tradition  of  the  labours  and  sufferings  of  the  apostles,  and  the  churches  they  planted, 
is  altogether  doubtful  and  uncertain,  and  what  I  think  we  cannot  build  upon  with  any  satisfaction  at  all ; 
this  is  gold,  silver,  and  firecious  stones,  built  upon  the  foundation  ;  that  is  wood,  hay,  and  stubble.  [2.] 
It  is  called  their  acts,  or  doings.  Gesta  afiostolorum.  So  some,  rijd^wc — their  practices  of  the  lessons 
their  Master  had  taught  them.  The  apostles  were  active  men  ;  and  though  the  wonders  they  did  were 
by  the  word,  yet  they  are  fitly  called  their  acts  ;  they  spake,  or  rather  the  Spirit  by  them  sfiake,  and  it 
was  done.  The  history  is  filled  with  their  sermons  and  their  sufferings ;  yet  so  much  did  they  labour  in 
their  preaching,  and  so  voluntarily  did  they  expose  themselves  to  sufferings,  and  such  were  their 
achievements  by  both,  that  they  may  very  well  be  called  their  acts. 


THE  ACTS,  I. 


CHAP.  I. 

The  inspired  historian  begins  his  narrative  of  the  Acts  of  the 
Apostles,  I.  With  a  reference  to,  and  a  brief  recapitula¬ 
tion  of,  his  gospel,  or  history  of  the  life  of  Christ,  inscri¬ 
bing  this,  as"  he  hod  done  that,  to  his  friend  Theophilus,  v. 
1,  2.  II.  With  a  summary  of  the  proofs  of  Christ’s  resur¬ 
rection,  his  conference  with  his  disciples,  and  the  instruc¬ 
tions  he  gave  them  during  the  forty  days  of  his  continuance 
on  earth,  v.  2 . .  5.  III.  With  a  particular  narrative  of 
Christ’s  ascension  into  heaven,  his  disciples’  discourse  with 
him  before  he  ascended,  and  the  angels’  discourse  with 
them  after  he  was  ascended,  v.  6  . .  11.  IV.  With  a  gene¬ 
ral  idea  of  the  embryo  of  the  Christian  church, and  its  state 
from  Christ’s  ascension  to  the  pouring  out  of  the  Spirit,  v. 
12. .  14.  V.  With  a  particular  account  of  the  filling  up  of 
the  vacancy  that  was  made  in  the  sacred  college  by  the 
death  of  Judas,  bv  the  electing  of  Matthias  in  his  room, 
v.  15..  26. 

I .  rpHE  former  treatise  have  I  made,  O 
B  Theophilus,  of  all  that  Jesus  be- 
gan  both  to  do  and  teach,  2.  Until  the  day 
in  which  he  was  taken  up,  after  that  he 
through  the  Holy  Ghost  had  given  com¬ 
mandments  unto  the  apostles  whom  he 
had  chosen:  3.  To  whom  also  he  shewed 
himself  alive  after  his  passion  by  many  in¬ 
fallible  proofs,  being  seen  of  {hem  forty 


days,  and  speaking  of  the  things  pertain¬ 
ing  to  the  kingdom  of  God :  4.  And,  be¬ 

ing  assembled  together  with  them,  com¬ 
manded  them  that  they  should  not  depart 
from  Jerusalem,  but  wait  for  the  promise 
of  the  Father,  which,  saith  he,  ye  have 
heard  of  me.  5.  For  John  truly  baptized 
with  water ;  but  ye  shall  be  baptized  with 
the  Holy  Ghost  not  many  days  hence. 

In  these  verses, 

I.  Theophilus  is  put  in  mind,  and  we  in  him,  of 
St.  Luke’s  gospel,  which  it  will  be  of  use  for  us  to 
cast  an  eye  upon  before  we  enter  upon  the  study  of 
this  book,  that  we  may  see  not  only  how  this  begins 
there  where  that  breaks  off,  but  that,  as  in  water 
face  answers  to  face,  so  do  the  acts  of  the  afiostles  to 
the  acts  of  their  Master,  the  acts  of  his  grace. 

1.  His  patron,  to  whom  he  dedicates  this  book,  (I 
should  rather  say  his  fiufiil,  for  he  designs,  in  dedi¬ 
cating  it  to  him,  to  instruct  and  direct  him,  and  not 
to  crave  his  countenance  or  protection,)  is,  Theophi¬ 
lus,  v.  1.  In  the  epistle  dedicatory  before  his  gos- 
el,  he  had  called  him  most  excellent  Theofihilus, 
ere  he  calls  him  no  more  than  O  Theofihilus,  not 
that  he  had  lost  his  excellency,  or  that  it  was  dimi¬ 
nished  and  become  less  illustrious ;  but  either  hr 


THE  ACTS,  i. 


7 


had  now  quitted  his  place,  whatever  it  was,  for  the  1 
sake  of  which  that  title  was  given  him  ;  or,  he  was 
now  grown  into  years,  and  despised  such  titles  of 
respect  more  than  he  had  done  ;  or  Luke  was  grown 
more  intimate  with  him,  and  therefore  could  address 
him  with  the  more  freedom.  It  was  usual  with  the 
ancients,  both  Christian  and  heathen  writers,  thus  to 
inscribe  their  writings  to  some  particular  persons. 
But  the  directing  some  of  the  books  of  the  scripture 
so,  is  an  intimation  to  each  of  us  to  receive  them  as 
if  directed  to  us  in  particular,  to  us  by  name ;  for 
whatsoever  things  were  written  before  time,  were 
i written  for  our  Learning. 

2.  His  gospel  is  here  called  the  former  treatise 
which  he  had^made,  which  he  had  an  eye  to  in  wri¬ 
ting  this,  intending  this  for  a  continuation  and  con¬ 
firmation  of  that,  -re*  Ti-gi-rov  hoy  tv — the  former  word. 
What  is  written  of  the  gospel,  is  the  word  as  truly 
as  what  was  spoken ;  nay,  we  know  no  unwritten 
word  that  we  are  to  give  credit  to,  but  as  it  agrees 
with  that  which  is  written.  He  made  the  former 
treatise,  and  now  is  divinely  inspired  to  make  this, 
for  Christ’s  scholars  must  "go  on  toward  perfection, 
Heb.  6.  1.  And  therefore  their  guides  must  help 
them  on,  must  still  teach  the  people  knowledge, 
(Eccl.  12.  9.)  and  not  think  that  their  former  la¬ 
bours,  though  ever  so  good,  will  excuse  them  from 
further  labours ;  but  they  should  rather  be  quickened 
and  encouraged  by  them,  as  St.  Luke  here,  who,  be¬ 
cause  he  had  laid  the  foundation  in  a  former  trea¬ 
tise,  will  build  upon  it  in  this.  Let  not  this  there¬ 
fore  drive  out  that ;  let  not  new  sermons  and  new 
books  make  us  forget  old  ones,  but  put  us  in  mind 
of  them,  and  help  us  to  improve  them. 

3.  The  contents  of  his  gospel  were,  that,  all  that , 

which  Jesus  began  both  to  do  and  teach ;  and  the 
same  is  the  subject  of  the  writings  of  the  other  three 
evangelists.  Observe,  (1.)  Christ  both  did  and 
taught.  The  doctrine  he  taught  was  confirmed  by 
the  miraculous  works  he  did,  which  proved  him  a 
teacher  come  from  God,  John  3.  2.  And  the  duties 
he  taught  were  copied  out  in  the  holy  gracious  works 
he  did,  for  he  hath  left  us  an  example,  and  that  such 
as  proves  him  a  teacher  come  from  God  too,  for  by 
their  fruits  ye  shall  know  them.  Those  are  the 
best  ministers,  that  both  do  and  teach,  whose  lives 
are  a  constant  sermon.  (2.)  He  began  both  to  do 
and  teach  ;  he  laid  the  foundation  of  all  that  was  to 
be  taught  and  done  in  the  Christian  church.  His 
apostles  were  to  carry  on  and  continue  what  he  be¬ 
gan,  and  to  do  and  teach  the  same  things.  Christ 
set  them  in,  and  then  left  them  to  go  on,  but  sent  his 
Spirit  to  empower  them  both  to  do  and  teach.  It  is 
a  comfort  to  those  who  are  endeavouring  to  carry  on 
the  work  of  the  gospel,  that  Christ  himself  began 
it.  The  great  salvation  at  the  first  began  to  be  spo¬ 
ken  by  the  Lord,  Heb.  2.  3.  (3.)  The  four  evange¬ 

lists,  and  Luke  particularly,  have  handed  down  to 
us  all  that  Jesus  began  both  to  do  and  teach ;  not 
all  the  particulars,  the  world  could  not  have  con¬ 
tained  them  ;  but  all  the  heads,  samples  of  all,  so 
many,  and  in  such  variety,  that  by  them  you  may 
judge  of  the  rest  We  have  the  beginnings  of  his 
doctrine,  (Matt.  4.  17.)  and  the  beginnings  of  his 
miracles,  John  2.  11.  Luke  had  spoken,  had  treat¬ 
ed,  of  all  Christ’s  sayings  and  doings,  had  given  us 
a  general  idea  of  them,  though  he  had  not  recorded 
each  in  particular. 

4.  The  period  of  the  evangelical  stoiy  is  fixed  to 
the  day  in  which  he  was  taken  up,  v.  2.  Then  it 
was  that  he  left  this  world,  and  his  bodily  presence 
was  no  more  in  it.  St.  Mark’s  gospel  concludes 
with  the  Lord's  being  received  up  into  ■  heaven, 
(Mark  16.  19.)  and  so  does  St.  Luke’s,  Luke  24.  51. 
Christ  continued  doing  and  teaching  to  the  last,  till 
he  was  taken  up  to  the  other  work  he  had  to  do 
within  the  veil. 


!|  II.  The  tru  h  of  Christ’s  resurrection  is  maintain¬ 
ed  and  evidenced,  v.  3.  That  part  of  what  was  re¬ 
lated  in  the  former  treatise,  was  so  material,  that  it 
was  necessary  to  be  upon  all  occasions  repeated. 
The  great  evidence  of  his  resurrection,  was,  that  he 
shewed  himself  alive  to  his  apostles ;  being  alive,  he 
shewed  himself  so,  and  he  was  seen  of  them.  They 
were  honest  men,  and  one  may  depend  upon  their 
testimony  ;  but  the  question  is,  whether  they  were 
not  imposed  upon,  as  many  a  well-meaning  man  is. 
No,  they  were  not ;  for, 

1.  The  proofs  were  infallible,  Ttx^jig/a — plain  in¬ 
dications,  both  that  he  was  alive,  (he  walked  and 
talked  with  them,  he  ate  and  drank  with  them,)  and 
that  it  was  he  himself,  and  not  another,  for  he  shew¬ 
ed  them  again  and  again  the  marks  of  the  wounds  in 
his  hands,  and  feet,  and  side  ;  which  was  the  utmost 
proof  the  thing  was  capable  of,  or  required. 

2.  They  were  many,  and  often  repeated  ;  he  was 
seen  by  them  forty  days;  not  constantly  residing  with 
them,  but  frequently  appearing  to  them,  and  bring¬ 
ing  them  by  degrees  to  be  fully  satisfied  concerning 
it,  so  that  all  their  sorrow  for  his  departure  was  done 
away  by  it.  Christ’s  staying  upon  earth  so  long 
after  he  was  entered  upon  his  state  of  exaltation  and 
glory,  to  confirm  the  faith  of  his  disciples,  and  com¬ 
fort  their  hearts,  was  such  an  instance  of  condescen¬ 
sion  and  compassion  to  believers,  as  may  fully  as¬ 
sure  us,  that  we  have  a  high-priest  that  is  touched 
with  the  feeling  of  our  infirmities. 

III.  A  general  hint  given  of  the  instructions  he 
furnished  his  disciples  with,  now  that  he  was  about 
to  leave  them.  Since  he  breathed  on  them,  and 
opened  their  understandings,  they  were  better  able 
to  receive  them. 

1.  He  instructed  them  concerning  the  work  they 
were  to  do;  He  gave  commandments  to  the  apostles 
whom  he  had  chosen.  Note,  Christ’s  choice  is  al¬ 
ways  attended  with  his  charge.  Those  whom  he 
elected  into  the  apostleship,  expected  he  should  give 
them  preferments,  but,  instead  of  that,  he  gave 
them  commandments.  When  he  took  his  journey, 
and  gave  authority  to  his  servants,  and  to  every  one 
his  work,  (Mark  13.  34.)  he  gave  them ■  command¬ 
ments  through  the  Holy  Ghost,  which  he  was  him¬ 
self  filled  with  as  Mediator,  and  which  he  had 
breathed  into  them.  In  giving  them  the  Holy  Ghost, 
he  gave  them  his  commandments ;  for  the  Comforter 
will  be  a  commander ;  and  his  office  was  to  bring  to 
their  remembrance  what  Christ  had  said.  He  charged 
those  that  were  apostles  by  the  Holy  Ghost ;  so  the 
words  are  placed.  It  was  their  recehung  the  Holy 
Ghost,  that  sealed  their  commission,  John  20.  22. 
He  was  not  taken  up  till  after  he  had  given  them 
their  charge,  and  so  finished  his  work. 

2.  He  instructed  them  concerning  the  doctrine 
they  were  to  preach  ;  He  spake  to  them  of  the  things 
pertaining  to  the  kingdom  of  God.  He  had  given 
them  a  general  idea  oi'  that  kingdom,  and  the  certain 
time  it  should  be  set  up  in  the  world ;  (in  his  para¬ 
ble,  Mark  13.)  but  here  he  let  them  more  into  the 
nature  of  it,  as  a  kingdom  of  grace  in  this  world,  and 
of  glory  in  the  other ;  and  opened  to  them  that  cove 
nant  which  is  the  great  charter  by  which  it  is  incor 
porated.  Now  this  was  intended,  (1.)  To  prepare 
them  to  receive  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  to  go  through 
that  which  they  were  designed  for.  He  tells  them 
in  secret  what  they  must  tell  the  world ;  and  they 
shall  find  that  the  Spirit  of  truth,  when  he  comes,  will 
say  the  same.  (2.)  To  be  one  of  the  proofs  of 
Christ’s  resurrection  ;  so  it  comes  in  here  ;  the  disci¬ 
ples,  to  whom  he  shewed  himself  alive,  knew  that  it 
was  he,  not  only  by  what  he  shelved  them,  but  bv 
what  he  said  to  them.  None  but  he  could  speak 
thus  clearly,  thus  fully,  of  the  things  pertaining  to 
the  kingdom  of  God.  He  did  not  entertain  them 
with  discourses  of  politics  or  the  kingdoms  of  men, 


8 


THE  ACTS,  I. 


of  philosophy  or  the  kingdom  of  nature,  but  pure 
divinity  and  the  kingdom  of  grace  ;  the  things  which 
most  nearly  concerned  them,  and  those  to  whom 
they  were  sent. 

IV.  A  particular  assurance  given  them,  that  they 
should  now  shortly  receive  the  Holy  Ghost,  with 
orders  given  them  to  expect  it;  (n.  4,  5.)  he  being 
assembled  together  with  them,  probably  in  the  in¬ 
terview  at  the  mountain  in  Galilee,  which  he  had 
appointed  before  his  death ;  for  there  is  mention  of 
their  coming  together  again,  {y.  6.)  to  attend  his  as¬ 
cension.  Though  lie  had  now  ordered  them  to  Gali¬ 
lee,  yet  they  must  not  think  to  continue  there ;  no, 
they  must  return  to  Jerusalem,  and  not  depart 
thence.  Observe, 

1.  The  command  he  gives  them  to  wait ;  this  was 

to  raise  their  expectations  of  something  great ;  and 
something  very  great  they  had  reason  to  expect 
from  their  exalted  Redeemer.  ( 1. )  They  must  wait 
till  the  time  appointed,  which  is  now  not  many  days 
hence.  They  that  by  faith  hope  promised  mercies 
will  come,  must  with  patience  wait  till  they  do  come ; 
according  to  the  time,  the  set  time.  And  when  the 
time  draws  nigh,  as  now  it  did,  we  must,  as  Daniel, 
look  earnestly  for  it,  Dan.  9.  3.  (2.)  They  must 

wait  in  the  place  appointed,  in  .Jerusalem,  for  there 
the  Spirit  must  be.  first  poured  out,.be cause  Christ 
was  to  be  as  King  upon  the  holy  hill  of  Zion  ;  and 
because  the  word  of  the  J^ord  must  go  forth  from 
Jerusalem  ;  that  must  be  the  mother-church.  There 
Christ  was  put  to  shame,  and  therefore  there  he  will 
have  this  honour  done  him  ;  and  this  favour  is  done 
to  Jerusalem,  to  teach  us  to  forgive  our  enemies  and 
persecutors.  The  apostles  were  more  exposed  to 
danger  at  Jerusalem  than  they  would  have  been  in 
Galilee ;  but  we  may  cheerfully  trust  God  with  our 
safety,  when  we  keep,  in  the  way  of  our  duty.  The 
apostles  were  now  to  put  on  a  public  character,  and 
therefore  must  venture  in  a  public  station  ;  Jerusa¬ 
lem  was  the  fittest  candlestick  for  those  lights  to  be 
sepupin. 

2.  xThe  assurance  he  gives  them  that  they  shall 

not  wait  in  vain  ;  the  blessing  designed  them  shall 
come,  and  they  shall  find  it  was  worth  waiting  for ; 
You  shall  be  baptized  with  the  Holy  Ghost :  that  is, 
(1,.)  “  The  Holy  Ghost  shall  be  poured  out  upon  you 
more  plentifully- than  ever.;>  They  had  already 
been  breathed  upon  with  the  Holy  Ghost,  (John  20. 
22. )  and  they  had  found  the  benefit  of  it ;  but  now 
they  shall  have  larger  measures  of  his  gifts,  graces, 
and  comforts,  and  be  baptized  with  them;  where 
there  seems  to  be  an  allusion  to  those  Old  Testa¬ 
ment  promises  of  the  pouring  out  of  the  Spirit,  Joel 
2.  28.  Isa.  44.  3. — 32.  15.  (2.)  “  Ye  shall  be  cleansed 
and  purified  by  the  Holy  Ghost,  as  the  priests  were 
baptized  and  washed  with  water,  when  they  were 
consecrated  to  the  sacred  function  ;  They  had  the 
sign,  ye  shall  have  the  thing  signified.  Ye  shall  be 
sanctified  by  the  truth,,  as  the  Spirit  shall  lead  you 
more  and  more  into  it,  and  your  consciences  purged 
by  the  witness  of  the  Spirit,  that  ye  may  serve" the 
living  God  in  the  apostleship. ”  (3.)  “Ye  shall 

hereby  be  more  effectually  than  ever  engaged  to 
your  Master,  and  to  his  conduct,  as  Israel  was  bap¬ 
tized  unto  Moses  in  the  cloud,  and  in  the  sea ;  ye 
shall  be  tied  so  fast  to  Christ,  that  ye  shall  never, 
for  fear  of  any  sufferings,  forsake  him  again,  as  once 
you  did.  ” 

Now  this  gift  of  the  Holy  Ghost  he  speaks  of,  [1.] 
As  the  promise  of  the  Father,  which  they  had  heard 
of  him,  and  might  therefore  depend  upon. 

First,  The  Spirit  was  given  by  promise,  and  it  was 
at  this  time  the  great  promise,  as  that  of  the  Mes¬ 
siah  was  before,  (Luke  1.  72.)  and  that  of  eternal 
life  is  now,  1  John  2.  25.  Temporal  good  things  are 
given  by  Providence,  but  the  Spirit  and  spiritual 
blessings  are  given  by  promise,  Gal.  3.  18.  The 


Spirit  of  God  is  not  given  as  the  spirit  of  men  is  giv»*n 
us,  and  formed  within  us,  by  a  course  of  nature, 
(Zech.  12.  l.)but  by  the  word  of  God.  1.  That 
the  gift  may  be  the  more  valuable,  Christ  thought 
the  promise  of  the  Spirit  a  legacy  worth  leaving  to 
his  church.  2.  That  it  may  be  the  more  sure,  and 
that  the  heirs  of  promise  may  be  confident  of  the  im 
mutability  of  God's  counsel  herein.  3.  That  it  may 
be  of  grace,  peculiar  grace,  and  may  be  received  by 
faith,  laying  hold  on  the  promise,  and  depending 
upon  it.  A"  Christ,  so  the  Spirit  is  received  by  faith. 

Secondly,  It  was  the  promise  of  the  Father,  of 
Christ’s  Father.  Christ,  as  Mediator,  had  an  eye 
to  God  as  his  Father,  fathering  his  design,  and  own¬ 
ing  it  all  along.  Of  our  Father ,  who,  if  he  give  us 
the  adoption  of  sons,  will  certainly  give  us  the  Spirit 
of  adoption.  Gal.  4.  5,  6.  He  will  give  the  Spirit, 
as  the  Father  of  lights,  as  the  Father  of  spirits,  and 
as  the  Father  of  mercies;  it  is  the  promise  of  the 
Father. 

Thirdly,  This  promise  of  the  Father  they  had 
heard  from  Christ  many  a  time,  especially  in  the 
farewell  sermon  he  preached  to  them  a  little  before 
he  died,  wherein  he  assured  them,  again  and  again, 
that  the  Comforter  should  come.  This  confirms  the 
promise  of  God,  and  encourages  us  to  depend  upon 
it,  that  we  have  heard  it  from  Jesus  Christ ;  for  in 
him  all  the  promises  of  God  are  yea,  and  amen. 
“You  have  heard  it  from  me,  and  I  will  make  it 
good.  ” 

[2.]  As  the  prediction  of  John  Baptist ;  for  so  far 
Christ  here  directs  them  to  look ;  ( v .  5.)  “  You  have 
not  only  heard  it  from  me,  but  you  had  it  from  John  ; 
when  he  turned  you  over  to  me,  he  Said,  (Matt.  3. 
11.)  I  indeed  baptize  you  with  water,  but  he  that 
comes  after  me,  shall  baptize  you  with  the  Holy 
Ghost.  ”  It  is  a  great  honour  that  Christ  now  does 
to  John,  not  only  to  quote  his  words,  but  to  make  this 
great  gift  of  the  Spirit,  now  at  hand,  to  be  the  ac¬ 
complishment  of  them.  Thus  he  confirmeth  the 
word  of  his  servants,  his  messengers,  Isa.  44.  26. 
But  Christ  can  do  more  than  any  of  his  ministers. 
It  is  an  honour  to  them  to  be  employed  in  dispensing 
the  means  of  grace,  but  it  is  his  prerogative  to  give 
the  Spirit  of  grace.  He  shall  baptize  you  with  the 
Holy  Ghost ;  shall  teach  you  by  his  Spirit,  and  give 
.  his  Spirit  to  make  intercession  in  you  ;  which  is  more 
than  the  best  ministers  preaching  with  us. 

Now  this  gift  of  the  Holy  Ghost  thus  promised, 
thus  prophesied  of,  thus  waited  for,  is  that  which 
we  find  the  apostles  received  in  the  next  chapter, 
for  in  that  this  promise  had  its  full  accomplishment ; 
that  was  it  that  shall  come,  and  we  look  for  no  other  ; 
for  it  is  here  promised  to  be  given  not  many  days 
hence.  He  does  not  tell  them  how  many,  because 
they  must  keep  every  day  in  a  frame  fit  to  receive  it. 
Other  scriptures  speak  of  the  gift  of  the  Holy  Ghost 
to  ordinary  believers,  this  sneaks  of  that  particular 
power  which,  by  the  Holy  Ghost,  the  first  preachers 
of  the  gospel,  and  planters  of  the  church,  were  en¬ 
dued  with,  enabling  them  infallibly  to  relate  to  that 
age,  and  record  to  posterity,  the  doctrine  of  Christ, 
and  the  proofs  of  it ;  so  that  by  virtue  of  this  pro¬ 
mise,  and  the  performance  of  it,  we  receive  the 
New  Testament  as  of  divine  inspiration,  and  venture 
our  souls  upon  it. 

6.  When  they  therefore  were  come  to¬ 
gether,  they  asked  of  him,  saying,  Lord, 
wilt  thou  at  this  time  restore  again  the 
kingdom  to  Israel  ?  7.  And  he  said  unto 

them,  It  is  not  for  you  to  know  the  times 
or  the  seasons,  which  t he  Father  hath  put 
in  his  own  power.  8.  But  ye  shall  leee  ve 
power,  after  that  the  Holy  Ghosi  is  come 


THE  t 

upon  you  :  and  ye  shall  be  witnesses  unto 
me  both  in  Jerusalem,  and  in  all  Judea, 
and  in  Samaria,  and  unto  the  uttermost 
part  of  the  earth.  9.  And  when  he  had 
spoken  these  things,  while  they  beheld,  he 
was  taken  up ;  and  a  cloud  received  him 
out  of  their  sight.  10.  And  while  they 
looked  stedfastly  toward  heaven  as  he  went 
up,  behold,  two  men  stood  by  them  in  white 
apparel ;  11.  Which  also  said,  Ye  men  of 
Galilee,  why  stand  ye  gazing  up  into  hea¬ 
ven  ?  This  same  Jesus,  which  is  taken  up 
from  you  into  heaven,  shall  so  come  in  Hie 
manner  as  ye  have  see  ft  him  go  into  heaven. 

In  Jerusalem  Christ,  by  his  angel,  had  appointed 
his  disciples  to  meet  him  in  Galilee ;  there  he  ap¬ 
pointed  them  to  meet  him  in  Jerusalem  again,  such 
a  day  ;  thus  he  would  try  their  obedience,  and  it  was 
found  ready  and  cheerful ;  they  came  together,  as  he 
appointed  them,  to  be  the  witnesses  of  his  ascension  ; 
which  here  we  have  an  account  of.  Observe, 

I.  The  question  they  asked  him  at  this  interview. 
They  came  together  to  him,  as  those  that  had  con¬ 
sulted,  one  another  about  it,  and  concurred  in  the 
question,  nemine  contraclicente — unanimously  ;  they 
came  in  a  body,  and  put  it  to  him  as  the  sense  of  the 
bouse Lord,  wilt  thou  at  this  time  restore  again 
the  kingdom  to  Israel?  Two  Ways  this  may  be 
taken. 

1.  “  Surely  thou  wilt  not  at  all  restore  it  to  the 
present  rulers  of  Israel,  the  chief  priests  and  the 
elders,  that  put  thee  to  death,  and,  to  compass  that 
design,  tamely  gave  up  the  kingdom  to  Czesar,  and 
owned  themselves  his  subjects  !  What  !  Shall  those 
that  hate  and  persecute  thee  and  us,  be  trusted  with 
power?  That  be  far  from  thee.”  Or  rather, 

2.  “  Surely  thou  wilt  now  restore  it  to  the  Jewish 
nation,  as  far  as  it  will  submit  to  thee  as  their  king  !” 
Now  two  things  were  amiss  in  this  question  : 

(1.)  Their  expectation  of  the  thing  itself.  They 
thought  Christ  would  restore  the  kingdom  to  Israel, 
that  is,  that  he  would  make  the  nation  of  the  Jews 
as  great  and  considerable  among  the  nations  as  it 
was  in  the  days  of  David  and  Solomon,  of  Asa  and 
Jehoshaphat ;  that,  as  Shiloh,  he  would  restore  the 
sceptre  to  Judah,  and  the  lawgiver  ;  whereas  Christ 
came  to  set  up  his  own  kingdom,  and  that  a  king¬ 
dom  of  heaven,  not  to  restore  the  kingdom  to  Israel, 
an  earthly  kingdom.  See  how  apt  even  good  men 
are  to  place  the  happiness  of  the  church  too  much  in 
external  pomp  and  power  !  As  if  Israel  were  not 
glorious  unless  the  kingdom  were  restored  to  it,  nor 
Christ’s  disciples  honoured  unless  they  were  peers 
of  the  realm  ;  whereas  we  are  bid  to  expect  the  cross 
in  this  world,  and  to  wait  for  the  kingdom  in  the 
other  world.  See  how  apt  we  are  to  retain  what 
we  have  imbibed,  and  how  hard  it  is  to  get  over  the 
prejudices  of  education  !  The  disciples  having  suck¬ 
ed  in  this  notion  with  their  milk,  that  the  Messiah 
was  to  be  a  temporal  prince,  they  were  long  before 
thev  could  be  brought  to  have  any  idea  of  his  king¬ 
dom  as  spiritual.  See  also  how  naturally  we  are 
biassed  in  favour  of  our  own  people  !  They  thought 
God  would  have  no  kingdom  in  the  world,  unless  it 
were  restored  to  Israel ;  whereas  the  kingdoms  of 
this  world  were  to  become  his,  in  whom  he  would 
be  glorihed,  whether  Israel  sink,  or  swim.  See  also 
how  apt  we  are  to  misunderstand  scripture,  and  to 
understand  that  literally,  which  is  spoken  figura- 
th  elv,  and  to  expound  scripture  by  our  schemes, 
whereas  we  ought  to  form  our  schemes  by  the  scrip¬ 
tures.  But  when  the  Spirit  shall  be  poured  out  from 

Vol.  vi. — B 


DTS,  1.  9 

on  high,  our  mistakes  will  be  rectified,  as  the  apos¬ 
tles’  soon  after  were. 

(2.)’ Their  inquiry  concerning  the  time  of  it; 
“Lord,  wilt  thou  do  it  at  this  time?  Now  thai  thou 
hast  called  us  together,  is  it  for  this  purpose,  that 
proper  measures  may  be  concerted  for  the  restoring 
of  the  kingdom  to  Israel?  Surely  there  cannot  be  a 
more  favourable  juncture  than  this.”  Now  herein 
they  missed  it,  [1.]  That  they  were  inquisitive  into 
that  which  their  Master  had  never  directed  or  en¬ 
couraged  them  to  inquire  into.  [2.]  That  they 
were  impatient  for  the  settingup  of  that  kingdom  in 
which  they  promised  themselves  so  great  a  share, 
and  would  anticipate  the  divine  counsels.  Christ 
had  told  them  that  they  should  sit  on  thrones,  (Luke 
22,  30. )  and  now  nothing  will  serve  them  but  they 
must  be  in  the  throne  immediately,  and  cannot  stay 
the  time  ;  whereas  he  that  believeth,  doth  not  make 
haste,  but  is  satisfied  that  God’s  time  is.  the  best 
time. 

II.  The  check  which  Christ  gave  to  this  question, 
like  that  which  he  had  a  little  before  given  to  Peter’s 
inquiry  concerning  John,  What  is  that  to  thee?  v.  7. 
It  is  not  for  you  to  know  the  times  and  seasons.  He 
does  not  contradict  their  expectation  that  the  king¬ 
dom  would  be  restored  to  Israel,  because  that  mfs- 
take  would  soon  be  rectified  by  the  pouring  out  of 
the  Spirit,  after  which  they  never  had  any  more 
thoughts  of  the  temporal  kingdom  ;  and  also  be¬ 
cause  there  is  a  sense  of  the  expectation  which  is 
true,  the  setting  up  of  the  gospel-kingdom  in  the 
world  ;  and  their  mistake  of  the  promise,  shall  not 
make  it  of  no  effect;  but  he  checks  their  inquiry 
after  the  time. 

1.  The  knowledge  of  this  is  not  allowed  to  them  , 
It  is  not  for  you  to  know,  and  therefore  it  is  not  for 
you  to  ask.  (1.)  Christ  is  now  parting  from  them, 
and  parts  in  love  ;  and  yet  he  gives  them  this  re¬ 
buke,  which  is  intended  for  a  caution  to  his  church 
in  all  ages,  to  take  heed  of  splitting  upon  the  rock 
which  was  fatal  to  our  first  parents — an  inordinate 
desire  of  forbidden  knowledge,  and  intruding  into 
things  which  we  have  not  seen,  because  God  has  not 
shewn.  JVescire  velle  quee  magister  maximus  docere 
non  vult,  erudita  inscitia  est — It  is  folly  to  covet  to 
be  wise  above  what  is  written,  and  wisdom  to  be  con¬ 
tent  to  be  no  wiser.  (2.)  Christ  had  given  his  dis¬ 
ciples  a  great  deal  of  knowledge  above  others,  (  To 
you  it  is  given  to  know  the  mysteries  of  the  kingdom 
o  f  God, )  and  had  promised  them  his  Spirit,  to  teach 
them  more  ;  now,  lest  they  should  be  puffed  up  with 
the  abundance  of  the  revelations,  he  here  lets  them 
understand  that  there  were  some  things  which  it 
was  not  for  them  to  know.  We  shall  see  how  little 
reason  we  have  to  be  proud  of  our  knowledge,  when 
we  consider  how  many  things  we  are  ignorant  of. 
(3.)  Christ  had  given  his  disciples  instructions  suf¬ 
ficient  for  the  discharge  of  their  duty,  both  before 
his  death,  and  since  his  resurrection,  and  this  know¬ 
ledge  he  will  have  them  to  be  satisfied  in  ;  for  it  is 
enough  for  a  Christian,  in  whom  vain  curiosity  is  a 
corrupt  humour,  to  be  mortified,  and  not  gratified. 
(4.)  Christ  had  himself  told  his  disciples  the  things 
pertaining  to  the  kingdom  of  God,  and  had  pro¬ 
mised  that  the  Spirit  should  shew  them  things  to 
come  concerning  it,  John  16.  13.  He  had  likewise 
given  them  signs  of  the  times,  which  it  was  their 
duty  to  observe,  and  a  sin  to  overlook,  Matt.  24.  33. 
16.  3.  But  they  must  not  expect  or  desire  to  know, 
either  all  the  particulars  of  future  events,  or  the 
exact  times  of  them.  It  is  good  for  us  to  be  kept  in 
the  dark,  and  left  at  uncertainty  concerning  the  times 
and  moments  (as  Dr.  Hammond  reads  it)  of  future 
events  concerning  the  church,  as  well  as  concerning 
ourselves  ;  concerning  all  the  periods  of  time  and 
the  final  period  of  it,  as  well  as  concerning  the  period 
of  our  own  time. 


10 


THE  ACTS,  1. 


Prudens  futuri  t<  mpnris  exitum 
Caliginosa  nocte  premit  Deus— 

But  Jove,  in  goodness  ever  wise, 

Hath  hid,  in  clouds  of  thickest  night, 

All  that  in  future  prospect  lies 

Beyond  the  ken  of  mortal  sight. — Hor. 

As  to  the  times  and  seasons  of  the  year,  we  know  in 
general,  there  will  be  summer  and  winter  counter- 
changed,  but  we  know  not  particularly  which  day 
will  be  fair  or  which  foul,  either  in  summer  or  in 
winter  ;  so,  as  to  our  affairs  in  this  world,  when  it  is 
a  summer-time  of  prosperity,  that  we  may  not  be 
secure,  we  are  told  there  will  come  a  winter-time 
of  trouble  ;  and  in  that  winter,  that  we  may  not 
despond  and  despair,  we  are  assured  that  summer 
will  return  ;  but  what  this  or  that  particular  day 
•will  bring  forth,  we  cannot  tell,  but  must  accommo¬ 
date  ourselves  to  it,  whatever  it  is,  and  make  the 
best  of  it 

2.  The  knowledge  of  it  is  reserved  to  God  as  his 
prerogative  ;  it  is  what  the  Father  hath  put  in  his 
own  power  ;  it  is  hid  with  him.  None  besides  can 
reveal  the  times  and  seasons  to  come  ;  known  unto 
God  are  all  his  works,  but  not  to  us,  ch.  15.  18.  It 
is  in  his  power,  and  in  his  only,  to  declare  the  end 
from  the  beginning  ;  and  by  this  he  proves  himself 
to  be  God,  Isa.  46.  10.  And  though  he  did  think  fit 
sometimes  to  let  '•he  Old  Testament  prophets  know 
the  times  and  the  seasons,  (as  of  the  Israelites’  bon¬ 
dage  in  Egypt  four  hundred  years,  and  in  Babylon 
seventy  years,)  yet  he  has  not  thought  fit  to  let  you 
know  the  times  and  seasons,  no  not  just  how  long  it 
shall  be  before  Jerusalem  be  destroyed,  though  you 
be  so  xvell  assured  of  the  thing  itseif.  He  hath  not 
said  that  he  will  not  give  you  to  /mow  something 
more  than  you  do  of  the  times  and  seasons ;  he  did  so 
afterward  to  his  servant  John  ;  but  he  has  put  it  in 
his  own  power  to  do  it  or  not,  as  he  thinks  fit ;  and 
what  is  in  that  New  Testament  prophecy  discovered 
concerning  the  times  and  the  seasons,  is  so  dark,  and 
hard  to  be  understood,  that,  when  we  come  to  apply 
it,  it  concerns  us  to  remember  this  word,  that  it  is 
not  for  us  to  be  positive  in  determining  the  times 
and  the  seasons.  Buxtorf  mentions  a  saying  of  the 
Rabbins  concerning  the  coming  of  the  Messiah  ; 
Pumpatur  spiritus  eorum  qui  supputant  tempora — 
Perish  the  men  who  calculate  the  time. 

III.  He  cuts  them  out  their  work,  and  with  au¬ 
thority  assures  them  of  an  ability  to  go  on  with  it, 
and  of  success  in  it ;  **  It  is  not  for  you  to  know  the 
times  and  the  seasons,  that  will  do  you  no  good  ;  but 
know  this,  (i>.  8.)  that  ye  shall  receive  a  spiritual 
power,  by  the  descent  of  the  Holy  Ghost  upon  you, 
and  shall  not  receive  it.  in  vain,  for  ye  shall  be  wit¬ 
nesses  unto  me  and  my  glory,  and  your  testimony 
shall  not  be  in  vain,  for  it  shall  be  received  here  in 
Jerusalem,  in  the  country  about  and  all  the  world 
over,”r.  8.  If  Christ  make  us  serviceable  to  his 
honour  in  our  own  day  and  generation,  let  that  be 
enough  for  us,  and  let  not  us  perplex  ourselves 
about  tunes  and  seasons  to  come.  Christ  here  tells 
them, 

1.  That  their  work  should  be  honourable  and 
glorious;  Ye  shall  be  witnesses  unto  me.  (1.)  They 
shall  proclaim  hint  King,  and  publish  those  truths 
to  the  world,  by  which  his  kingdom  should  be  set 
up,  and  he  would  rule.  They  must  openly  and  so¬ 
lemnly  preach  his  gospel  to  the  world.  (2.)  They 
shall  prove  this,  shall  confirm  their  testimony,  not 
as  witnesses  do,  with  an  oath,  but  with  the  divine 
seal  of  miracles  and  supernatural  gifts  ;  Ye  shall  be 
marti/rs  to  me,  or  mu  martyrs,  as  some  copies  read 
it ;  for  thev  attested  the  truth  of  the  gospel  with 
their  sufferings,  even  unto  death. 

2.  That  their  power  for  this  work  should  be  suf¬ 
ficient.  They  had  not  strength  of  their  own  for  it, 
nor  wisdom  or  courage  enough  ;  they  were  naturally 


of  the  weak  and  foolish  things  of  the  world  ;  they 
durst  not  appear  as  witnesses  for  Christ  upon  his 
trial,  neither  as  yet  were  they  able.  “  But  ye  shall 
receive  the  power  of  the  Holy  Ghost  coming  upon 
you,  (so  it  may  be  read,)  shall  be  animated  and  ac¬ 
tuated  by  a  better  spirit  than  your  own  ;  ye  shall 
have  power  to  preach  the  gospel,  and  to  prove  it 
out  of  the  scriptures  of  the  Old  Testament,”  (which, 
when  they  wer  e.  filled  with  the  Holy  Ghost,  they  did 
to  admiration,  ch.  18.  28.)  “and  to  confirm  it  both 
by  miracles  and  by  sufferings.” 

Note,  Christ’s  witnesses  shall  receive  power  Ccr 
that  work  to  which  he  calls  them  ;  whom  he  em¬ 
ploys  in  his  service,  he  will  qualify  them  for  it,  and 
bear  them  out  in  it. 

3.  That  their  influence  should  be  great  and  very 
extensive  ;  “  Ye  shall  be  witnesses  for  Christ,  and 
shall  carry  his  cause,”  (1.)  “  In  Jerusalem  ;  there 
ye  must  begin,  and  many  there  will  receive  your 
testimony  ;  and  they  that  do  not,  will  be  left  inex¬ 
cusable.”  (2.)  “  Your  light  shall  from  thence  shme 
throughout  all  Judea,  where  before  ye  have  labour¬ 
ed  in  vain.”  (3.)  “  Thence  ye  shall  proceed  to  Sa¬ 
maria,  though  at  your  first  mission  ye  were  forbidden 
to  preach  in  any  of  the  cities  of  ' the  Samaritans.” 
(4.)  “  Your  usefulness  shall  reach  to  the  uttermost 
part  of  the  earth,  and  ye  shall  be  blessings  to  the 
whole  world.” 

IV.  Having  left  these  instructions  with  them,  he 
leaves  them  ;  ( v .  9.)  When  he  had  spoken  these 
things,  and  had  said  all  that  he  had  to  say,  he  blessed 
them  ;  (so  we  were  told,  Luke  24.  50.)  and  while 
they  beheld  him,  and  had  their  eye  fixed  upon  am., 
receiving  his  blessing,  he  was  gradually  taken  tip, 
and  a  cloud  received  him  out  of  their  sight.  We 
have  here  Christ’s  ascending  on  high  ;  not  fetched 
away,  as  Elijah  was,  with  a  chariot  of  fire  and 
horses  of  fire,  but  rising  to  heaven,  as  he  rose  from 
the  grave,  purely  by  his  own  power ;  his  body  being 
now,  as  the  bodies  of  the  saints  will  be  at  the  resur¬ 
rection,  a  spiritual  body,  and  raised  in  power  and 
incorruption.  Observe, 

1.  He  began  his  ascension  in  the  sight  of  his  dis¬ 
ciples,  even  while  they  beheld.  They  did  not  see 
him  come  up  out  of  the  grave,  because  they  might 
see  him  after  he  was  risen,  which  would  be  satis¬ 
faction  enough  ;  but  they  saw  him  go  up  toward 
heaven,  and  had  actually  their  eye  upon  him,  with 
so  much  care  and  attention  of  mind,  that  they  could 
not  be  deceived.  It  is  probable  that  he  did  not  f  v 
swiftly  up,  but  moved  upwards  gently,  for  the  further 
satisfaction  of  his  disciples. 

2.  He  vanished  out  of  their  sight,  in  a  cloud, 
either  a  thick  cloud,  for  God  said  that  he  would 
dwell  in  the  thick  darkness ;  or  a  bright  cloud,  to 
signify  the  splendour  of  his  glorious  body.  It  was  a 
bright  cloud  that  overshadowed  him  in  his  transfigu¬ 
ration,  and  most  probably  this  was  so,  Matt.  17.  5. 
This  cloud  received  him,  it  is  probable,  when  he 
was  gone  about  as  far  from  the  earth  as  the  clouds 
generally  are  ;  yet  it  was  not  such  a  spreading  cloud 
as  we  commonly  see,  but  such  as  just  served  to  on  • 
close  him.  Now  he  made  the  clouds  his  chario ', 
Ps.  104.  3.  God  had  often  come  down  in  a  cloud, 
now  he  went  up  in  one.  Dr.  Hammond  thinks  that 
the  clouds  receiving  him  here,  were  the  an  gels  re¬ 
ceiving  him  ;  for  the  appearance  of  angels  is  ord:- 
narilv  olescribed  by  a  cloud,  comparing  Exod.  15. 
22.  with  Lev.  16.  2.  By  the  clouds  there  is  a  sort 
of  a  communication  kept  up  between  the  upper  and 
lower  world,  in  them  the  vapours  are  sent  up  fre  m 
the  earth,  and  the  dews  sent  down  from  heaven  ; 
fitly  therefore  does  he  ascend  in  a  cloud,  who  is  the 
Mediator  between  God  and  man,  by  whom  G<  d’s 
mercies  come  olown  upon  us,  and  our  prayers  con  e 

i  up  to  him.  This  was  the  last  that  was  seen  of  him, 

|  the  eyes  of  a  great  many  witnesses  followed  him  into 


THE  ACTS,  I. 


the  cloud:  if  we  would  know  what  came  of  him 
then,  we  may  find,  (Dan.  7.  13.)  That  one  like  the 
Son  of  man  came  with  the  clouds  of  heaven ,  and 
came  to  the  Ancient  of  days,  and  they  brought  him 
in  the  clouds  as  he  came  near  before  him 

V.  The  disciples,  when  he  was  gone  out  of  their 
sight,  yet  still  continued  looking  up  steaclfustly  to 
heaven,  (y.  10. )  and  this  longer  than  it  was  fit  they 
should  ;  and  why  so  ? 

1.  Perhaps,  they  hoped  that  Christ  would  pre¬ 
sently  come  back  to  them  again,  to  restore  the  king¬ 
dom  to  Israel,  and  were  loath  to  believe  they  should 
now  part  with  him  for  good  and  all  ;  so  much  did 
they  still  dote  upon  his  bodily  presence,  though  he 
had  told  them  that  it  was  expedient  for  them  that 
he  should  go  away.  Or,  they  look  after  him,  as 
doubting  whether  he  might  not  be  dropped,  as  the 
sons  of  the  prophets  thought  concerning  Elijah,  (2 
Kings  2.  16.)  and  so  they  might  have  him  again. 

2.  Perhaps,  they  expected  to  see  some  change  in 
the  visible  heavens,  now  upon  Christ’s  ascension, 
that  either  the  sun  should  be  ashamed,  or  the  moon 
confounded,  (Isa.  24.  23.)  as  being  out-shone  by  his 
lustre  ;  or  rather,  that  they  should  shew  some  sign 
of  joy  and  triumph  ;  or  perhaps  they  promised  them¬ 
selves  a  sight  or  the  glory  of  the  invisible  heavens,  i 
upon  their  opening  to  receive  him.  Christ  had  told 
them,  that  hereafter  they  should  see  heaven  opened ; 
(John  1.  51.)  and  why  should  not  they  expect  it 
now  ? 

VI.  Two  angels  appeared  to  them,  and  delivered 
them  a  seasonable  message  from  God.  There  was 
a  world  of  angels  ready  to  receive  our  Redeemer, 
now  that  he  made  his  public  entry  into  the  Jerusa¬ 
lem  above:  we  may  suppose  these  two  loath  to  be 
absent  then  ;  yet,  to  shew  how  much  Christ  had  at 
heart  the  concerns  of  his  church  on  earth,  he  sent 
two  of  those  that  came  to  meet  him,  back  to  his 
disciples,  who  appear  as  two  men  in  white  apparel, 
bright  and  glistering  ;  for  they  know,  according  to 
the  duty  of  their  place,  that  they  are  really  serving 
Christ,  when  they  are  ministering  to  his  seri’ants  on 
earth.  Now  we  are  told  what  they  said  to  them, 

1.  To  check  their  curiosity  ;  Ye  men  of  Galilee, 
why  stand  ye  gazing  up  into  heaven  ? '  He  calls 
them  men  of  Galilre,  to  put  them  in  mind  of  the 
rock  out  of  which  they  were  hewn.  Christ  had  put 
a  great  honour  upon  them,  in  making  them  his  am¬ 
bassadors  ;  but  they  must  remember  that  they  are 
men,  earthen  vessels,  and  men  of  Galilee,  illiterate 
men,  looked  upon  with  disdain.  Now,  say  they, 
“  IVhy  stand  ye  here,  like  Galileans,  rude  and  un¬ 
polished  men,  gazing  up  into  heaven?  What  would 
ye  see  ?  You  have  seen  all  that  ye  were  called  to¬ 
gether  to  see,  and  why  do  ve  look  any  further  ?  Why 
stand  ye  gazing,  as  men  frightened  and  perplexed, 
!.j  men  astonished  and  at  their  wits’  end  ?”  Christ’s 
disciples  should  never  stand  at  a  gaze,  because  they 
have  a  sure  rule  to  go  by,  and  a  sure  foundation  to 
build  upon. 

2.  To  confirm  their  faith  concerning  Christ’s  se¬ 
cond  coming.  Their  Master  had  often  told  them 
of  that,  and  the  angels  are  sent  at  this  time  season¬ 
ably  to  put  them  in  mind  of  it ;  “  This  same  Jesus, 
who  is  taken  up  from  you  into  heaven,  and  whom  ve 
are  looking  thus  long  after,  wishing  ye  had  him  with 
you  again,  is  not  gone  for  ever,  for  there  is  a  day 
appointed,  in  which  he  will  come  in  like  manner 
thence,  as  ye  have  seen  him  go  thither,  and  ye  must 
not  expect  him  back  till  that  appointed  day!”  (1.) 

“  This  same  Jesus  shall  come  again  in  his  own  per¬ 
son,  clothed  with  this  glorious  body  ;  this  same  Je¬ 
sus,  who  came  once  to  put  away  sin  bu  the  sacrifice 
of  himse/f  will  appear  a  second  time  without  sin, 
(Heb.  9.  26,  28.)  who  came  once  in  disgrace  to  be 
judged,  will  come  again  in  glory  to  judge.  The  same  \ 
Jesus,  who  has  given  you  your  charge,  will  come  I 


again  to  call  you  to  an  account,  how  you  have  per¬ 
formed  your  trust  ;  he,  and  not  another ,”  Job  19. 
27.  (2.)  “He  shall  come  in  like  manner.  He  is 

gone  away  in  a  cloud,  and  attended  with  angels  ; 
and  behold,  he  comes  in  the  clouds,  and  with  him  an 
innumerable  company  cf  angels?  He  is  gone  up 
with  a  shout  and  with  the  sound  of  a  trumpet,  (Ps. 
47.  5.)  and  he  will  descend  from  heaven  with  a 
shout  and  with  the  trump  of  God,  1  Thess.  4.  16. 
Ye  have  now  lost  the  sight  of  him  in  the  clouds  and 
in  the  air ;  and  whither  he  is  gone,  ye  cannot  follow 
him  now,  but  shall  then,  when  ye  shall  be  caught  up 
in  the  clouds,  to  meet  the  Lord  in  the  air.”  When 
we  stand  gazing  and  trifling,  the  consideration  of 
our  Master’s  second  coming  should  quicken  and 
awaken  us :  and  when  we  stand  gazing  and  trem¬ 
bling,  the  consideration  of  it  should  comfort  and 
encourage  us. 

12.  Then  returned  they  unto  Jerusalem 
from  the  mount  called  Olivet,  which  is  from 
Jerusalem  a  sabbath-days1  journey.  13. 
And  when  they  were  come  in,  they  went 
up  into  an  upper-room,  where  abode  both 
Peter,  and  James,  and  John,  and  Andrew, 
Philip,  and  Thomas,  Bartholomew,  and 
Matthew,  James  the  son  of  Alpheus,  and 
Simon  Zelotes,  and  Judas  the  brother  of 
James.  14.  These  all  continued  with  one 
accord  in  prayer  and  supplication,  with  the 
women,  and  Mary  the  mother  of  Jesus, 
and  with  his  brethren. 

We  are  here  told, 

1.  From  whence  Christ  ascended  ;  from  the  mount 
of  Olives,  (v.  12.)  from  that  part  of  it  where  the 
town  of  Bethany  stood,  Luke  24.  50.  There  he  be¬ 
gan  his  sufferings,  (Luke  22.  39.)  and  therefore  there 
he  rolled  away  the  reproach  of  them  by  his  glorious 
ascension,  and  thus  shewed  that  his  passion  and  his 
ascension  had  the  same  reference  and  tendency. 
Thus  would  he  enter  upon  his  kingdom  in  the  sight 
of  Jerusalem,  and  of  those  undutiful  ungrateful  citi¬ 
zens  of  his,  that  would  not  have  him  to  reign  over 
them.  It  was  prophesied  of  him,  (Zech.  14.  4.) 
That  his  feet  shall  stand  upon  the  mount  of  Olives, 
which  is  before  Jerusalem,  shall  stand  last  there  ; 
and  presently  it  follows,  The  mount  of  Olives  shall 
cleave  in  two.  From  the  mount  of  Olives  he  as¬ 
cended,  who  is  the  good  Olive-tree,  whence  we  re¬ 
ceive  the  unction,  Zech.  4.  12.  Rom.  11.  24.  This 
mount  is  here  said  to  be  near  Jerusalem,  a  sabbath- 
day's  journey  from  it,  that  is,  a  little  way  ;  no  fur¬ 
ther  than  devout  people  used  to  walk  out  on  a  sab¬ 
bath-evening,  after  the  public  worship  was  over,  for 
meditation  ;  some  reckon  it  a  thousand  paces,  others 
two  thousand  cubits  ;  some  seven  furlongs,  others 
eight.  Bethany  indeed  was  fifteen  furlongs  from 
Jerusalem,  (John  11.  18.)  but  that  part  of  the  mount 
of  Olives  which  was  next  to  Jerusalem,  whence 
Christ  began  to  ride  in  triumph,  was  but  seven  or 
eight  furlongs  off.  The  Chaldee  paraphrast  on  Ruth 
1.  says,  We  are  commanded  to  keep  the  sabbaths 
and  the  holy  days,  so  as  not  to  go  above  two  thou¬ 
sand  cubits;  which  they  build  upon  Josh.  3.  4.  where, 
in  their  march  through  Jordan,  the  space  between 
them  and  the  ark  w*as  to  be  two  thousand  cubits. 
God  had  not  then  thus  limited  them,  but  they  limited 
themselves  ;  and  thus  far  it  is  a  rule  to  us,  not  to 
journev  on  the  sabbath  any  more  than  in  order  to 
the  sabbath- work  ;  and  as  far  as  is  necessary  to  that, 
we  are  not  only  allowed,  but  enjoined,  2  Kings  4.  23. 

2.  Whither  the  disciples  returned  ;  They  came  ti 
Jerusalem,  according  to  their  Master’s  appointment, 


THE  ACTS,  1. 


though  there  they  were  in  the  midst  of  enemies  ; 
but  it  should  seem  that  though  immediately  after 
Christ’s  resurrection  they  were  watched,  and  were 
in  fear  of  the  Jews,  yet  alter  it  was  known  that  they 
were  gone  into  Galilee,  no  notice  was  taken  of  their 
return  to  Jerusalem,  nor  any  further  search  made 
for  them.  God  can  find  out  hiding-places  for  his 
people  in  the  midst  of  their  enemies,  and  so  influence 
Saul,  that  he  shall  not  seek  for  David  any  more.  At 
Jerusalem  they  went  up  into  an  upper  room,  and 
there  abode  ;  not  that  they  all  lodged  and  dieted  to¬ 
gether  in  one  room,  but  there  they  assembled  every 
day,  and  spent  time  together  in  religious  exercises, 
in  expectation  of  the  descent  of  thd  Spirit.  Divers 
conjectures  the  learned  have  about  this  upper  room  ; 
some  think  it  was  one  of  the  upper  rooms  in  the 
temple  ;  but  it  cannot  be  thought  that  the  chief  priests, 
who  had  the  letting  of  those  rooms,  would  suffer 
Christ’s  disciples  constantly  to  reside  in  any  of 
them.  It  was  said  indeed,  by  the  same  historian, 
that  they  were  continually  in  the  temple  ;  (Luke  24. 
53.)  but  that  was  in  the  courts  of  the  temple,  at  the 
hours  of  prayer,  where  they  could  not  be  hindered 
from  attending ;  but,  it  should  seem,  this  upper  room 
was  in  a  private  house.  Mr.  Gregory,  of  Oxford, 
is  of  that  mind,  and  quotes  a  Syriac  scholiast  upon 
this  place,  who  says  that  it  was  the  same  upper  room 
in  which  they  had  eaten  the  passovcr  ;  and  though 
that  was  called,  uvkytov,  this,  ilirsgi'.v,  both  may  sig¬ 
nify  the  same.  “Whether,”  says  he,  “it  was  in 
the  house  of  St.  John  the  evangelist,  as  Euodius  de¬ 
livered,  or  that  of  Mary  the  mother  of  John  Mark, 
as  others  have  collected,  cannot  be  certain.”  Notes, 
ch.  13. 

3.  Who  the  disciples  were,  that  kept  together. 
The  eleven  apostles  are  here  named,  ( v .  13.)  so  is 
Mary  the  mother  of  our  Lord,  ( v .  14.)  and  it  is  the 
last  time  that  ever  any  mention  is  made  of  her  in  the 
scriptures.  There  were  others  that  are  here  said 
to  be  the  brethren  of  cur  Lord,  his  kinsmen  according 
to  the  flesh  ;  and,  to  make  up  the  hundred  and  twaity 
spoken  of,  ( v .  15.)  we  may  suppose  that  all  or  most 
of  the  seventy  disciples  were  with  them,  that  were 
associates  with  the  apostles,  and  were  employed  as 
evangelists. 

4.  How  they  spent  their  time  ;  They  all  continued 
with  one  accord  in  prayer  and  supplication.  Ob¬ 
serve, 

(1.)  They  prayed,  and  made  supplication.  All 
God’s  people  are  praying  people,  and  give  themselves 
to  prayer.  It  was  now  a  time  of  trouble  and  danger 
with  the  disciples  of  Christ,  they  were  as  sheep  in 
the  midst  of  wolves  ;  and,  Is  any  afflicted  ?  Let  him 
pray ;  that  will  silence  cares  and  fears.  They  had 
new  work  before  them,  great  work,  and  before  they 
entered  upon  it,  they  were  instant  in  prayer  to  God 
for  his  presence  with  them  in  it.  Before  they  were 
first  sent  forth,  Christ  spent  time  in  prayer  for  them, 
and  now  they  in  prayer  for  themselves.  They  were 
waiting  for  the  descent  of  the  Spirit  upon  them,  and 
therefore  abounded  thus  in  prayer.  The  Spirit  de¬ 
scended  upon  our  Saviour  when  he  was  praying, 
Luke  3.  21.  Those  are  in  the  best  frame  to  receive 
spiritual  blessings,  that  are  in  a  praying  frame. 
Christ  had  promised  now  shortly  to  send  the  Holy 
Ghost ;  now  that  promise  was  not  to  supersede 
prayer,  but  to  quicken  and  encourage  it.  God  will 
be  inquired  of  for  promised  mercies,  and  the  nearer 
the  performance  seems  to  be,  the  more  earnest  we 
should  be  in  prayer  for  it. 

(2.)  They  continued  in  prayer,  spent  much  time 
tn  it  more  than  ordinary,  prayed  frequently,  and 
were  long  in  prayer.  They  never  missed  an  hour 
of  praver  ;  they  resolved  to  persevere  herein  till 
the  Holy  Ghost  came,  according  to  the  promise  ;  to 
pray,  and  not  to  faint.  It  was  said,  (Luke  24.  53.) 
They  were  praising  and  blessing  God  ;  here.  They 


continued  in  prayer  and  supplication  ;  for  as  praise 
for  the  promise  is  a  decent  way  of  begging  for  the 
performance,  and  praise  for  former  mercy  of  begging 
further  mercy  ;  so,  in  seeking  to  God,  we  give  him 
the  glory  of  the  mercy  and  grace  which  we  have 
found  in  him. 

(3.)  They  did  this  with  one  accord  ;  that  intimates 
that  they  were  together  in  holy  love,  and  that  there 
was  no  quarrel  or  discord  among  them  ;  and  those 
who  so  keep  the  unity  of  the  Spirit  in  the  bond  of 
peace,  are  best  prepared  to  receive  the  comforts  of 
the  Holy  Ghost.  It  also  speaks  their  worthy  con¬ 
currence  in  the  supplications  that  were  made ; 
though  but  one  spake,  they  all  prayed,  and  if,  when 
two  agree  to  ask,  it  shall  be  done  for  them,  much 
more  when  many  agree  in  the  same  petition.  See 
Matt.  18.  19. 

15.  And  in  those  days  Peter  stood  up  in 
the  midst,  of  the  disciples,  and  said,  (the 
number  of  the  names  together  were  about 
an  hundred  and  twenty,)  16.  Men  and 
brethren,  This  Scripture  must  needs  have 
been  fulfilled,  which  the  Holy  Ghost  by 
the  mouth  of  David  spake  before  concern¬ 
ing  Judas,  which  was  guide  to  them  that 
took  Jesus.  17.  For  he  was  numbered 
with  us,  and  had  obtained  part  of  this  min¬ 
istry.  18.  Now  this  man  purchased  a  field 
with  the  reward  of  iniquity  ;  and  falling 
headlong,  he  burst  asunder  in  the  midst, 
and  all  his  bowels. gushed  out.  19.  And  it 
was  known  unto  all  the  dwellers  at  Jeru¬ 
salem  ;  insomuch  as  that  field  is  called  in 
their  proper  tongue,  Aceldama,  that  is  to 
say,  The  field  of  blood.  20.  F or  it  is  writ¬ 
ten  in  the  book  of  Psalms,  Let  his  habita¬ 
tion  be  desolate,  and  let  no  man  dwell 
therein  :  and  his  bishopric  let  another  take. 
21.  Wherefore  of  these  men  which  have 
companied  with  us  all  the  time  that  the 
Lord  Jesus  went  in  and  out  among  us,  22. 
Beginning  from  the  baptism  of  John,  unto 
that  same  day  that  he  was  taken  up  from 
us,  must  one  be  ordained  to  be  a  witness 
with  us  of  his  resurrection.  23.  And  they 
appointed  two,  Joseph  called  Barsabas, 
who  was  surnamed  Justus,  and  Matthias. 
24.  And  they  prayed,  and  said,  Thou, 
Lord,  who  knowest  the  hearts  of  all  men , 
shew  whether  of  these  two  thou  hast  cho¬ 
sen,  25.  That  he  may  take  part  of  this 
ministry  and  apostleship,  from  which  Judas 
by  transgression  fell,  that  he  might  go  to 
his  own  place.  26.  And  they  gave  forth 
their  lots;  and  the  lot  fell  upon  Matthias; 
and  he  was  numbered  with  the  eleven 
apostles. 

The  sin  of  Judas  was  not  only  his  shame  and  ruin, 
but  it  made  a  gap  in  the  coliege  of  the  apostles. 
They  were  ordained  twelve,  with  an  eye  to  the 
twelve  tribes  of  Israel,  descended  from  the  twelve 
patriarchs  ;  they  were  the  twelve  rtars  that  make 
up  the  church's  crown,  (Rev.  12.  1.)  and  for  them 
twelve  thrones  were  designed,  Matt.  19.  28.  Now 
being  twelve  when  they  were  learners,  if  they  were 


THE  ACTS,  1. 


but  eleven  when  they  were  to  be  teachers,  it  would 
occasion  every  one  to  inquire  what  was  become  of 
the  twelfth,  and  so  revive  the  remembrance  of  the 
scandal  of  their  society  ;  and  therefore  care  was 
taken,  before  the  descent  of  the  Spirit,  to  fill  up  the 
vacancy,  which  now  we  have  an  account  of  the  doing 
of,  our  Lord  Jesus,  probably,  having  given  direc¬ 
tions  about  it,  among  other  things  which  he  spake 
pertaining  to  the  kingdom  of  God.  Observe, 

I.  The  persons  concerned  in  this  affair. 

1.  The  house  consisted  of  about  an  hundred  and 
twenty.  These  were  the  number  of  the  names,  that 
is,  the  persons ;  some  think,  the  men  only,  distin¬ 
guished  from  the  women.  Dr.  Lightfoot  reckons 
that  the  eleven  apostles,  the  seventy  disciples,  and 
about  thirty-nine  more,  all  of  Christ’s  own  kindred, 
country,  and  concourse,  made  up  this  one  hundred 
and  twenty,  and  that  these  were  a  sort  of  synod,  or 
congregation  of  ministers,  a  standing  presbytery, 
(ch.  4.  23. )  to  whom  none  of  the  rest  durst  join  them¬ 
selves,  ( ch .  5.  13. )  and  that  they  continued  together 
till  the  persecution  at  Stephen’s  death  dispersed 
them  all  but  the  afiostles ;  (ch.  8.  1.)  but  he  thinks 
that  beside  these  there  were  many  hundreds  in  Je¬ 
rusalem,  if  not  thousands,  at  this  time,  that  believed  ; 
and  we  have  indeed  read  of  many  that  believed  on 
him  there ,  but  durst  not  confess  him,  and  therefore  I 
cannot  think,  as  he  does,  that  they  were  now  formed 
into  distinct  congregations,  for  the  preaching  of  the 
word,  and  other  acts  of  worship  ;  nor  that  there  was 
any  thing  of  that  till  after  the  pouring  out  of  the 
Spirit,  and  the  conversions  in  the  following  chapter. 
Here  was  the  beginning  of  the  Christian  church  : 
this  hundred  and  twenty  was  the  grain  of  mustard 
seed  that  grew  into  a  tree ,  the  leaven  that  leavened 
the  whole  lump. 

2.  The  speaker  was  Peter,  who  had  been,  and 
still  was,  the  most  forward  man  ;  and  therefore  no¬ 
tice  is  taken  of  his  forwardness  and  zeal,  to  shew 
that  he  had  perfectly  recovered  the  ground  he  lost 
by  his  denying  his  Master ;  and  Peter  being  de¬ 
signed  to  be  the  apostle  of  the  circumcision,  while 
the  sacred  story  stays  among  the  Jews  he  is  still 
brought  in,  as  afterward,  when  it  comes  to  speak  of 
the  Gentiles,  it  keeps  to  the  story  of  Paul. 

II.  The  proposal  which  Peter  made  for  the  choice 
of  another  apostle.  He  stood  up  in  the  midst  of  the 
disciples,  v.  15.  He  did  not  sit  down,  as  one  that 
gave  laws,  or  had  any  supremacy  over  the  rest,  but 
stood  up,  as  one  that  had  only  a  motion  to  make,  in 
which  he  paid  a  deference  to  his  brethren,  standing 
up  when  he  spake  to  them.  Now  in  his  speech  we 
may  observe, 

1.  The  account  he  gives  of  the  vacancy  made  by 
the  death  of  Judas,  in  which  he  is  very  particular, 
and,  as  became  one  that  Christ  had  breathed  upon, 
takes  notice  of  the  fulfilling  of  the  scriptures  in  it 
Here  is, 

(1.)  The  power  to  which  Judas  had  been  ad¬ 
vanced  ;  (v.  17. )  He  was  numbered  with  us,  and 
had  obtained  part  of  this  ministry  which  we  are  in¬ 
vested  with.  Note,  Many  are  numbered  with  the 
saints  in  this  world,  that  will  not  be  found  among 
them  in  the  day  of  separation  between  the  precious 
and  the  vile.  What  will  it  avail  us  to  be  added  to 
the  number  of  Christians,  if  we  partake  not  of  the 
spirit  and  nature  of  Christians  ?  Judas’s  having  ob¬ 
tained  part  of  this  ministry,  was  but  an  aggravation 
of  his  sin  and  ruin,  as  it  will  be  of  theirs  who  pro¬ 
phesied  in  Christ’s  name,  and  yet  were  workers  of 
iniquity. 

(2.)  The  sin  of  Judas,  notwithstanding  hs  ad¬ 
vancement  to  this  honour ;  he  was  guide  to  them 
that  took  Jesus,  not  only  informed  Christ’s  perse¬ 
cutors  where  they  might  find  him,  (which  they 
m’’gV  have  done  effectuallv,  though  he  had  kept  j 
out  of  sight,)  but  he  had  the  impudence  to  appear  }j 


openly  at  the  head  of  the  party  that  seized  him. 
He  went  before  them  to  the  place,  and,  as  if  he 
had  been  proud  of  the  honour,  gave  the  word  of 
command,  That  same  is  he,  hold  him  past.  Note,  Ring¬ 
leaders  in  sin  are  the  worst  of  sinners  ;  especially  il 
those  that  by  their  office  should  have  been  guides  to 
the  friends  of  Christ,  are  guides  to  his  enemies. 

(3.)  The  ruin  of  Judas  by  this  sin  ;  perceiving 
the  chief  priests  to  seek  the  life  of  Christ  and  his 
disciples,  he  thought  to  save  his  by  going  over  to 
them,  and  not  only  so,  but  to  get  an  estate  under 
them,  of  which  his  wages  for  his  service,  he  hoped, 
would  be  but  an  earnest ;  but  see  what  came  of  it. 

[1.]  He  lost  his  money  shamefully  enough  ;  (t;. 
18.)  He  purchased  a  field  with  the  thirty  pieces  of 
silver,  which  were  the  reward  of  his  iniquity.  He 
did  not  purchase  the  field,  but  the  wages  of  his 
unrighteousness  did  :  and  it  is  very  elegantly  ex- 
ressed  thus,  in  derision  of  his  projects  to  enrich 
imself  by  this  bargain  ;  he  thought  to  have  pur¬ 
chased  a  field  for  himself,  as  Gehazi  did  with  what 
he  got  from  Naaman  by  a  lie,  (see  2  Kings  5.  26.) 
but  it  proved  the  purchase  of  a  field  to  bury  stran¬ 
gers  in  ;  and  what  the  better  was  he  for  that,  or  any 
of  his  ?  It  was  to  him  an  unrighteous  mammon,  it 
deceived  him  ;  and  the  reward  of  his  iniquity  was 
the  stumbling-block  of  his  iniquity. 

[2.]  He  lost  his  life  more  shamefully.  We  were 
told  (Matt.  27.  5. )  that  he  went  away  in  despair, 
and  was  suffocated ;  (so  the  word  signifies  there, 
and  no  more  ;)  here  it  is  added  (as  latter  historians 
add  to  those  who  went  before)  that,  being  strangled, 
or  choked  with  grief  and  horror,  he  fell  headlong, 
fell  on  his  face,  (so  Dr.  Hammond,)  and  partly  with 
the  swelling  of  his  own  breast,  and  partly  with  the 
violence  of  the  fall,  he  burst  asunder  in  the  midst, 
so  that  all  his  bowels  tumbled  out.  If,  when  the 
devil  was  cast  out  of  a  child,  he  tore  him,  threw  him 
down,  and  rent  him,  and  almost  killed  him,  (as  we 
find  Mark  9.  26.  Luke  9.  42.)  no  wonder  if,  when 
he  had  full  possession  of  Judas,  he  threw  him  head¬ 
long,  and  burst  him.  The  suffocating  of  him,  which 
Matthew  relates,  would  make  him  swell  till  he 
burst,  which  Peter  relates.  He  burst  asunder  with 
a  great  noise,  (so  Dr.  Edwards,)  which  was  heard 
by  the  neighbours,  and  so,  as  it  follows,  it  came  to 
be  known,  (r.  19.)  His  bowels  gushed  out;  Luke 
writes  like  a  physician,  understanding  all  the  en¬ 
trails  of  the  middle  and  lower  ventricle.  Bowelling 
is  part  of  the  punishment  of  traitors.  Justly  do 
those  bowels  gush  out,  that  were  shut  up  against 
the  Lord  Jesus.  And  perhaps  Christ  had  an  eye 
to  the  fate  of  Judas,  when  he  said  of  the  wicked 
servant,  that  he  would  cut  him  in  sunder.  Matt. 
24.  51. 

(4.)  The  public  notice  that  was  taken  of  this  ;  It 
was  known  to  all  the  dwellers  in  Jerusalem.  It  was 
(as  it  were)  put  into  the  newspapers,  and  was  all 
the  talk  of  the  town,  as  a  remarkable  judgment  of 
God  upon  him  that  betrayed  his  Master,  v.  19.  It 
was  not  only  discoursed  of  among  the  disciples,  but 
it  was  in  every  body’s  mouth,  and  nobody  disputed 
the  truth  of  the  fact.  It  was  known,  that  is,  it  was 
known  to  be  true,  incontestably  so  ;  now  one  would 
think  this  should  have  awakened  those  to  repent¬ 
ance,  that  had  had  any  hand  in  the  death  of  Christ, 
when  they  saw  him  that  had  the  first  hand,  thus 
made  an  example.  But  their  hearts  were  harden¬ 
ed,  and  as  to  those  of  them  that  were  to  be  softened, 
it  must  be  done  by  the  word,  and  the  Spirit  working 
with  it 

Here  is  one  proof  of  the  notoriety  of  the  thing 
mentioned,  that  the  field  which  was  purchased  with 
Judas’s  monev,  was  called  Hceldama — the  field  of 
blood,  because  it  was  bought  with  the  price  of  blood 
which  perpetuated  the  infamv  not  only  of  him  that 
sold  that  innocent  precious  blocd,  but  of  diem  that 


THE  ACTS,  I. 


bought  it  too.  Look  how  they  will  answer  it,  when 
Goa  shall  make  inquisition  for  blood. 

(5.)  The  fulfilling  of  the  scriptures  in  this,  which 
had  spoken  so  plainly  of  this,  that  it  must  needs  be 
fulfilled,  v.  16.  Let  none  be  surprised  or  stumble 
at  it,  that  this  should  be  the  exit  of  one  of  the 
twelve,  for  David  had  foretold  not  only  his  sin, 
(which  Christ  had  taken  notice  of,  John  13.  18. 
from  Ps.  41.  9.  He  that  eateth  bread  with  me, 
hath  lift  ufi  the  heel  against  me,)  but  had  also  fore¬ 
told, 

[1.]  His  punishment  ;  (Ps.  69.  25.)  Let  his  habi¬ 
tation  be  desolate.  That  Psalm  refers  to  the  Mes¬ 
siah  :  mention  was  made  but  two  or  three  verses 
before,  of  their  giving  him  gall  and  vinegar,  and 
therefore  the  following  predictions  of  the  destruc¬ 
tion  of  David’s  enemies  must  be  applied  to  the 
enemies  of  Christ,  and  particularly  to  Judas.  Per¬ 
haps  he  had  some  habitation  of  his  own  at  Jerusa¬ 
lem,  which,  upon  this,  every  body  was  afraid  to  live 
in,  and  so  it  became  desolate.  This  prediction  sig¬ 
nifies  the  same  with  that  of  Bildad  concerning  the 
wicked  man,  that  his  confidence  shall  be  rooted  out 
of  his  tabernacle,  and  shall  bring  him  to  the  Icing  of 
terrors  :  it  shall  dwell  in  his  tabernacle ,  because  it  is 
none  of  his  ;  brimstone  shall  be  scattered  upon  his 
habitation.  Job  18.  14,  15. 

[2.]  The  substitution  of  another  in  his  room.  His 
bishopric,  or  his  office,  (for  so  the  word  signifies  in 
general,)  shall  another  take,  which  is  quoted  from 
Ps.  109.  8.  With  this  quotation  Peter  very  aptly 
introduces  the  following  proposal.  Note,  We  are 
not  to  think  the  worse  of  any  office  that  God  has 
instituted,  (whether  magistracy  or  ministry,)  either 
for  the  wickedness  of  any  that  are  in  that  office,  or 
for  the  ignominious  punishment  of  that  wickedness  ; 
nor  will  God  suffer  any  purpose  of  his  to  be  frustrated, 
any  commission  of  his  to  be  vacated,  or  any  word  of 
his  to  be  undone,  for  the  miscarriages  of  them  that 
are  intrusted  therewith.  The  unbelief  of  man  shall 
not  make  the  promise  of  God  of  none  effect.  Judas 
is  hanged,  but  his  bishopric  is  not  lost.  It  is  said  of 
his  habitation,  that  no  man  shall  dwell  therein,  there 
he  shall  have  no  heir ;  but  it  is  not  said  so  of  his 
bishopric,  there  he  shall  not  want  a  successor ;  it  is 
with  the  officers  of  the  church  as  with  the  members 
of  it,  if  the  natural  branches  be  broken  off,  others 
shall  be  grafted  in,  Rom.  11.  17.  Christ’s  cause  shall 
never  be  lost  for  want  of  witnesses. 

2.  The  motion  he  makes  for  the  choice  of  another 
apostle,  v.  21,  22.  Here  observe, 

(1.)  How  the  person  must  be  qualified,  that  must 
fill  up  the  vacancy ;  it  must  be  one  of  these  men, 
these  seventy  disciples,  that  have  companied  with 
us,  that  have  constantly  attended  us  all  the  time  that 
the  Lord  Jesus  went  in  and  out  among  us,  preaching 
and  working  miracles  for  three  years  and  a  half, 
beginning  from  the  baptism  of  John,  which  the  gos¬ 
pel  of  Christ  commenced  from,  unto  that  same  day 
that  he  was  taken  up  from  us.  Those  that  have 
been  diligent,  faithful,  and  constant,  in  the  discharge 
of  their  duty  in  a  lower  station,  are  fittest  to  be  pre¬ 
ferred  to  a  higher ;  those  that  have  been  faithful  in 
a  little,  shall  be  intrusted  with  more.  And  none 
should  be  employed  as  ministers  of  Christ,  preachers 
of  his  gospel,  and  rulers  in  his  church,  but  those  that 
are  well  acquainted  with  his  doctrine  and  doings, 
from  first  to  last.  None  shall  be  an  apostle  but  one 
that  has  companied  with  the  apostles,  and  that  con¬ 
tinually  ;  not  that  has  visited  them  now  and  then, 
but  been  intimately  conversant  with  them. 

(2.)  To  what  work  he  is  called,  that  must  fill  up 
the  vacancy  ;  he  must  be  a  witness  with  us  of  his  re¬ 
surrection.  Rv  this  it  appears  that  others  of  the  dis¬ 
ciples  were  with  the  eleven  when  Christ  appeared 
to  them,  else  they  could  not  have  been  witnesses  with 
them,  as  competent  witnesses  as  they  of  his  resur¬ 


rection.  The  great  thing  which  the  apostles  were 
to  attest  to  the  world,  was,  Christ’s  resurrection,  for 
that  was  the  great  proof  of  his  being  the  Messiah, 
and  the  foundation  of  our  hope  in  him.  See  what 
the  apostles  were  ordained  to,  not  to  a  secular  dig¬ 
nity  and  dominion,  but  to  preach  Christ,  and  the 
power  ofi  his  resurrection. 

III.  The  nomination  of  the  person  that  was  to  sue 
ceed  Judas  in  his  office  as  an  apostle. 

1.  Two,  who  were  known  to  have  been  Christ’s 
constant  attendants,  and  men  of  great  integrity,  were 
set  up  as  candidates  for  the  place ;  (v.  23. )  They 
appointed  two ;  not  the  eleven,  they  did  not  take 
upon  them  to  determine  who  should  be  put  up,  but 
the  hundred  and  twenty,  for  to  them  Peter  spake, 
and  not  to  the  eleven.  The  two  they  nominated, 
were,  Joseph  and  Matthias,  of  neither  of  whom  dc 
we  read  elsewhere,  except  this  Joseph  be  the  same 
with  that  Jesus  who  is  called  Justus,  whom  Paul 
speaks  of,  (Col.  4.  11.)  and  who  is  said  to  be  of  the 
circumcision,  a  native  Jew,  as  this  was;  and  who 
was  a  fellow-worker  with  Paul  unto  the  kingdom 
of  God,  and  a  comfort  to  him  ;  and  then  it  is  observ¬ 
able,  that  though  he  came  short  of  being  an  apostle, 
he  did  not  therefore  quit  the  ministry,  but  was  very 
useful  in  a  lower  station  ;  for,  Are  all  apostles?  Are 
all  prophets?  Some  think  this  Joseph  is  he  that  is 
called  Joses,  (Mark  6.  3.)  the  brother  of  James  the 
less,  (Mark  15.  40.)  and  was  called  Joses  the  just,  as 
another  person  was  called  James  the  just.  Some 
confound  this  with  that  Joses  mentioned  Acts  4.  36. 
But  that  was  of  Cyprus,  this  of  Galilee ;  and,  it 
should  seem,  to  distinguish  them,  that  was  called 
Barnabas — a  son  of  consolation  ;  this  Barsabas — a 
son  of  the  oath.  These  two  were  both  of  them  such 
worthy  men,  and  so  well  qualified  for  the  office,  that 
they  could  not  tell  which  of  them  was  fitter,  but  all 
agreed  it  must  be  one  of  these  two.  They  did  not 
propose  themselves  nor  strive  for  the  place,  but 
humbly  sat  still,  and  were  appointed  to  it. 

2.  They  applied  themselves  to  God  by  prayer  for 
direction,  not  which  of  the  seventy,  for  none  of  the 
rest  could  stand  in  competition  with  these  in  the 
opinion  of  all  present,  but  which  of  these  two  ?  v.  24. 
25. 

(1.)  They  appeal  to  God  as  the  searcher  of  hearts; 
“  Thou,  Lord,  who  knowest  the  hearts  of  all  men, 
which  we  do  not,  and  better  than  they  know  their 
own.  ”  Observe,  When  an  apostle  was  to  be  chosen, 
he  must  be  chosen  by  his  heart,  and  the  temper  and 
disposition  of  that.  Yet  Jesus,  who  knew  all  men’s 
hearts,  for  wise  and  holy  ends,  chose  Judas  to  be  one 
of  the  twelve.  It  is  comfortable  to  us,  in  our  prayers 
for  the  welfare  of  the  church  and  its  ministers,  that 
the  God  we  pray  to,  knows  the  hearts  of  all  men,  and 
has  them  not  only  under  his  eye,  but  in  his  hand, 
and  turns  them  which  way  soever  he  will;  can  make 
them  fit  for  his  purpose,  if  he  do  not  find  them  so, 
by  giving  them  another  Spirit. 

(2.)  They  desire  to  know  which  of  these  God  had 
chosen  ;  I.ord,  shew  ns  that,  and  we  are  satisfied.  It 
is  fit  that  God  should  choose  his  own  servants ;  and 
so  far  as  he  any  way,  by  the  disposals  of  his  provi¬ 
dence,  or  the  gifts  of  his  Spirit,  shews  whom  he  hath 
chosen,  or  what  he  hath  chosen,  for  us,  we  ought  to 
comply  with  him. 

(3.)  They  are  ready  to  receive  him  as  a  brother, 
whom  God  hath  chosen  ;  for  they  are  not  contriving 
to  have  so  much  the  more  dignity  themselves,  by 
keeping  out  another,  but  desire  to  have  one  to  take 
part  of  this  ministry  and  apostleship,  to  join  with  us 
in  the  work,  and  share  with  us  in  the  honour,  from 
which  Judas  by  transgression  fell,  threw  himself,  by 
deserting  and  betraying  his  Master,  from  the  place 
of  an  apostle,  which  he  was  unworthy  of,  that  he 
might  go  to  his  own  place,  the  place  of  a  traitor,  the 
fittest  place  for  him,  not  only  to  the  gibbet,  but  to 


16 


THE  ACTS,  II. 


hell;  r hat  was  his  own  place.  Note,  Those  that 
betray  Christ,  as  they  fall  from  the  dignity  of  rela¬ 
tion  to  him,  so  they  fall  into  all  misery.  It  is  said  of 
Balaam,  (Numb.  24.  25.)  that  he  ’went  to  his  own 
place ,  that  is,  says  one  of  the  Rabbins,  he  went  to 
hell.  Dr.  Whitby  quotes  Ignatius  saying,  There  is 
appointed  to  every  man  if  tot  r  ;7r'& — a  proper  place, 
which  speaks  the  same  with  that  of  God’s  rendering 
t">  every  man  according  to  his  works.  And  our  Sa¬ 
viour  has  said,  that  Judas’s  own  place  should  be 
such,  that  it  had  been  better  for  him  that  he  had 
never  been  born ;  (Matt.  26.  24.)  his  misery  was 
such  as  to  be  worse  than  not  being.  Judas  had  been 
a  hypocrite,  and  hell  is  the  proper  place  of  such ; 
other  sinners,  as  inmates,  have  their  portion  with 
them,  Matt.  24.  51. 

(4.)  The  doubt  was  determined  by  lot,  (v.  26.) 
which  is  an  appeal  to  God,  and  lawful  to  be  used  for 
the  determining  matters  not  otherwise  determin¬ 
able,  provided  it  be  done  in  a  solemn  religious  man¬ 
ner,  and  with  prayer,  the  prayer  of  faith  ;  for  the  lot 
is  cast  into  the  lap,  but  the  whole  disposal  thereof  is 
of  the  Lord,  Prov.  16.  33.  Matthias  was  not  or¬ 
dained  by  the  imposition  of  hands,  as  presbyters 
were,  for  he  was  chosen  by  lot,  which  was  the  act 
of  God  ;  and  therefore  as  he  must  be  baptized,  so  he 
must  be  ordained,  by  the  Holy  Ghost,  as  they  were 
all  not  many  days  after.  Thus  the  number  of  the 
apostles  was  made  up,  as  afterwards,  when  James, 
another  of  the  twelve,  was  martyred,  Paul  was  made 
an  apostle. 

CHAP.  II. 

Between  the  promise  of  the  Messiah’s  coming  (even  the  latest 
of  those  promises)  and  his  coming,  many  ages  intervened  ; 
but  between  the  promise  of  the  Spirit  and  his  coming,  there 
were  but  a  few  days  ;  and  during  those  days,  the  apostles, 
though  they  had  received  orders  to  preach  the  gospel  to 
every  creature,  and  to  begin  at  Jerusalem,  yet  lay  perfectly 
wind-bound,  incognito— concealed,  and  not  offering  to 
preach.  But  in  this  chapter  the  north- wind  and  the  south- 
wind  awake,  and  then  they  awake,  and  we  have  them  in 
the  pulpit  presently.  Here  is,  I.  The  descent  of  the  Spirit 
upon  the  apostles,  and  those  that  were  .with  them,  on  the 
day  of  pentecost,  v.  1..4.  II.  The  various  speculations 
which  this  occasioned  among  the  people  that  were  now 
met  in  Jerusalem  from  all  parts,  v.  5..  13.  III.  The  ser¬ 
mon  which  Peter  preached  to  them  hereupon,  wherein  he 
shews  that  this  pouring  out  of  the  Spirit  was  the  accom¬ 
plishment  of  an  Old  Testament  promise,  (v.  14..  21.)  that 
it  was  a  confirmation  of  Christ’s  being  the  Messiah,  which 
was  already  proved  by  his  resurrection,  (v.  22.  32.)  and 
that  it  was  a  fruit  and  evidence  of  his  ascension  into  heaves, 
v.  83  . .  36.  IV.  The  good  effect  of  this  sermon  in  the  con¬ 
version  of  many  to  the  faith  of  Christ,  and  their  addition  to 
the  church,  v.  37  . .  41.  V.  The  eminent  piety  and  charity 
of  those  primitive  Christians,  and  the  manifest  tokens  of 
God’s  presence  with  them,  and  power  in  them,  v.  42. .  47. 

1 .  AND  when  the  day  of  pentecost  was 
1 JL  fully  come,  they  were  all  with  one 
accord  in  one  place.  “2.  And  suddenly 
there  came  a  sound  from  heaven  as  of  a 
rushing  mighty  wind,  and  it  filled  all  the 
house  where  they  were  sitting.  3.  And 
there  appeared  unto  them  cloven  tongues 
like  as  of  fire,  and  it  sat  upon  each  of  them. 
4.  And  they  were  all  filled  with  the  Holy 
Ghost,  and  began  to  speak  with  other 
tongues,  as  the  Spirit  gave  them  utterance. 

We  have  here  an  account  of  the  descent  of  the 
Holy  Ghost  upon  the  disciples  of  Christ.  Observe, 
I.  When,  and  where,  this  was  done,  which  is 
particularly  noted  for  the  greater  certainty  of  the 
thing. 

1.  It  was  when  the  day  of  pentecost  was  fully  come. 
There  seems  to  be  a  reference  to  the  manner  of  the 


expression  in  the  institution  cf  this  feast,  where  it  is 
said,  (Lev.  23.  15.)  Ye  shall  count  unto  you  seven 
sabbaths  complete,  from  the  day  of  the  offering  of 
the  first-fruits,  which  was  the  next  day  but  one  after  ^ 
the  passover,  the  sixteenth  day  of  the  month  Abib, 
which  was  the  day  that  Christ  rose.  This  day  was 
fully  come,  that  is,  the  night  preceding,  with  a  part 
of  the  day,  was  fully  past. 

(1.)  The  Holy  Ghost  came  down  at  the  time  of  a 
solemn  feast,  because  there  was  then  a  great  con¬ 
course  of  people  to  Jerusalem  from  all  parts  of  the 
country,  and  of  proselytes  from  other  countries, 
which  would  make  it  the  more  public,  and  the  fame 
of  it  to  be  spread  the  sooner  and  further,  which 
would  contribute  much  to  the  propagating  of  the 
gospel  into  all  nations.  Thus  now,  as  before  at  the 
passover,  the  Jewish  feasts  served  to  toll  the  bell  for 
gospel-services  and  entertainments. 

(2.)  This  feast  of  pentecost  was  kept  in  remem¬ 
brance  of  the  giving  of  the  law  upon  mount  Sinai, 
whence  the  incorporating  of  the  Jewish  church  was 
to  be  dated,  which  Dr.  Lightfoot  reckons  to  be  just 
one  thousand  four  hundred  and  forty-seven  years 
before  this.  Fitly,  therefore,  is  the  Holy  Ghost 
given  at  that  feast,  in  fire  and  in  tongues,  for  the 
promulgation  of  the  evangelical  law,  not  as  that  to 
one  nation,  but  to  every  creature. 

(3.)  This  feast  of  pentecost  happened  on  the  first 
day  of  the  week,  which  was  an  additional  honour  put 
on  that  day,  and  a  confirmation  of  it  to  be  the  Chris¬ 
tian  sabbath,  the  day  which  the  Lord  hath  made,  to 
be  a  standing  memorial  in  his  church  of  those  two 
great  blessings — the  resurrection  of  Christ,  and  the 
pouring  out  of  the  Spirit,  both  on  that  day  of  the 
week.  This  serves  not  only  to  justify  us  in  observ¬ 
ing  that  day  under  the  style  and  title  of  the  Lord’s 
day,  but  to  direct  us  in  the  sanctifying  of  it  to  give 
God  praise  particularly  for  those  two  great  blessings; 
every  Lord’s  day  in  the  year,  I  think,  there  should 
be  a  full  and  particular  notice  taken  in  our  prayers 
and  praises  of  these  two,  as  there  is  by  some  churches 
of  the  one,  once  a  year,  upon  Easter-dav,  and  of  the 
other,  once  a  year,  upon  Whit-sundav.  Oh  !  that 
we  may  do  it  with  suitable  affections  ! 

2.  It  was  when  they  were  all  with  one  accord  in 
one  place.  What  place  it  was,  we  are  not  told  par¬ 
ticularly,  whether  in  the  temple,  where  they  attend¬ 
ed  at  public  times,  (Luke  24.  53.)  or  whether  in  their 
own  upper  room,  where  they  met  at  other  times. 
But  it  was  at  Jerusalem,  because  it  had  been  the 
place  which  God  chose  to  put  his  name  there  ;  the 
prophecy  was,  that  from  hence  the  word  of  the  Lord 
should  go  forth  to  all  nations,  (Isa.  2.  3. )  and  it  was 
now  the  place  of  the  general  rendezvous  of  all  de 
vout  people  ;  there  God  had  promised  to  meet  them, 
and  bless  them,  here  therefore  he  meets  them  with 
this  blessing  of  blessings.  Though  Jerusalem  had 
done  the  utmost  dishonour  imaginable  to  Christ,  yet 
he  did  this  honour  to  Jerusalem,  to  teach  us  not  to 
fall  out  with  places,  nor  conceive  prejudices  against 
them  ;  for  God  has  his  remnant  in  all  places,  he  had 
so  in  Jerusalem. 

Here  they  were  in  one  place,  and  they  were  not 
as  yet  so  many,  but  that  one  place,  and  no  large  one, 
would  hold  them  all.  And  here  they  were  with  one 
accord.  We  cannot  forget  how  often,  while  their 
Master  was  with  them,  there  were  strifes  among 
them,  which  should  be  the  greatest ;  but  now  all  these 
strifes  were  at  an  end,  we  hear  no  more  of  them ; 
what  they  had  received  already  of  the  Holy  Ghost, 
when  Christ  breathed  on  them,  had  in  a  good  mea¬ 
sure  rectified  the  mistakes  upon  which  those  co  - 
tests  were  grounded,  and  had  disposed  them  to  holy 
love.  They  had  prayed  more  together  of  late  than 
usual,  (c//.  1.  14.)  and  that  made  them  love  one  an  ¬ 
other  better.  By  his  grace  he  thus  prepared  them 
for  the  erift  of  the  Holy  Ghost ;  for  that  blessed  dove 


16 


THE  ACTS,  II. 


comes  n  t  where  there  is  noise  and  clamour,  but 
moves  upon  the  face  of  the  still  waters,  not  the  rug¬ 
ged  ones.  Would  we  have  the  Spirit  floured  out 
ufion  us  from  on  high  ?  Let  us  be  all  of  one  accord , 
and,  notwithstanding  variety  of  sentiments  and  in¬ 
terests,  as,  no  doubt,  there  was  among  those  disci¬ 
ples,  let  us  agree  to  love  one  another ;  for  where 
brethren  dwell  together  in  unity,  there  it  is  that  the 
Lord  commands  his  blessing. 

II.  How,  and  in  what  manner,  the  Holy  Ghost 
came  upon  them.  We  often  read  in  the  Old  Tes¬ 
tament  of  God’s  coming  down  in  a  cloud ;  as  when 
he  took  possession  of  the  tabernacle  first,  and  after¬ 
ward  ot  the  temple,  which  intimates  the  darkness 
of  that  dispensation.  And  Christ  went  ufi  to  heaven 
in  a  cloud,  to  intimate  how  much  we  are  kept  in  the 
dark  concerning  the  upper  world.  But  the  Holy 
Ghost  did  not  descend  in  a  cloud  ;  for  he  was  to  dis¬ 
pel  and  scatter  the  clouds  that  overspread  men’s 
minds,  and  to  bring  light  into  the  world. 

1.  Here  is  an  audible  summons  given  them  to 
awaken  their  expectations  of  something  great,  v.  1. 
It  is  here  said,  (1.  )  That  it  came  suddenly,  did  not 
rise  gradually,  as  common  winds  do,  but  was  at  the 
height  immediately.  It  came  sooner  than  they  ex¬ 
pected,  and  startled  even  them  that  were  now  to¬ 
gether  waiting,  and,  probably,  employed  in  some 
religious  exercises.  (2.)  It  was  a  so und  from  hea¬ 
ven,  like  a  thunder-clap,  Rev.  6.  1.  God  is  said  to 
bring  the  winds  out  of  his  treasuries,  (Ps.  35.  7. )  and 
to  gather  them  in  his  hands,  Prov.  30.  4.  From  him 
this  sound  came,  like  the  voice  of  one  crying,  Pre¬ 
pare  ye  the  way  of  the  Lord.  (3. )  It  was  the  sound 
oj  a  wind,  for  the  way  of  the  Spirit  is  like  that  of  the 
wind;  (John  3.  8.)  thou  hearest  the  sound  thereof, 
but  const  not  tell  whence  it  comes,  or  whither  it  goes. 
When  the  Spirit  of  life  is  to  enter  into  the  dry  bones, 
the  prophet  is  bid  to  firofihesy  unto  the  wind  ;  Come 
from  the  four  winds,  O  breath,  Ezek.  37.  9.  And 
though  it  was  not  in  the  wind  that  the  Lord  came  to 
Elijah,  yet  that  prepared  him  to  receive  his  disco¬ 
very  of  himself  in  the  still  small  voice,  1  Kings  19. 

1  L  12.  Cod's  way  is  in  the  whirlwind  and  the  storm; 
(Nah.  1.  3.)  and  out  of  the  whirlwind  he  spake  to 
Job.  (4.)  It  was  a  rushing  mighty  wind ;  it  was 
strong  and  violent,  and  came  not  only  with  a  great 
noise,  but  with  a  great  force,  as  if  it  would  bear  down 
all  before  it.  This  was  to  signify  the  powerful  in¬ 
fluences  and  operations  of  the  Spirit  of  God  upon  the 
minds  of  men,  and  thereby  upon  the  world,  that 
they  should  be  mighty  through  God  to  the  casting 
down  of  imaginations.  (5.)  It  filled  not  only  the 
room,  but  all  the  house,  where  they  were  sitting. 
Probably,  it  alarmed  the  whole  citv,  but,  to  shew 
that,  it  was  supernatural,  presently  fixed  upon  that 
particular  house ;  as  some  think  the  wind  that  was 
sent  to  arrest  Jonah,  affected  only  the  ship  that  he 
was  in,  (Jon.  1.  4.)  and  as  the  wise  men’s  star  stood 
over  the  house  where  the  child  was.  This  would 
direct  the  people  who  observed  it,  whither  to  go,  to 
inquire  the  meaning  of  it.  This  wind  filling  the 
house,  would  strike  an  awe  upon  the  disciples,  and 
help  to  put  them  into  a  verv  serious,  reverend,  and 
composed  frame,  for  the  receiving  of  the  Holy 
Ghost.  1  hus  the  convictions  of  the  Spirit  make 
way  for  his  comforts ;  and  the  rough  blasts  of  that 
blessed  wind  prepare  the  soul  for  its  soft  and  gentle 
gales. 

2.  .Here  is  a  x<isible  sign  of  the  gift  they  were  to 
receive.  They  saw  cloven  tongues,  like  as  of  fire ; 
(v.  3.)  and  it  sat — ncaS/p »,  not  they  sat,  those  cloven 
tongues,  but  he,  that  is,  the  Spirit,  (signified  there¬ 
by,)  rested  upon  each  of  them,  as  he  is  said  to  rest 
upon  the  prophets  of  old.  Or,  as  Dr.  Hammond 
describes  it,  «« There  was  an  appearance  of  some¬ 
thing  like  flaming  fire,  lighting  on  every  one  of  them, 
which  divided  asunder,  and  so  formed  the  resem¬ 


blance. of  tongues,  with  that  part  of  them  that  was 
next  their  heads,  divided  or  cloven.”  The  flame  of 
a  candle  is  somewhat  like  a  tongue  :  and  there  is  a 
meteor  which  naturalists  call  ignis  lambens — a  gen¬ 
tle  fame,  not  a  devouring  fire  ;  such  was  this.  Ob¬ 
serve, 

(1.)  There  was  an  outward  sensible  sign,  for  the 
confirming  of  the  faith  of  the  disciples  themselves, 
and  for  the  convincing  of  others.  Thus  the  pro¬ 
phets  of  old  had  frequently  their  first  mission  con¬ 
firmed  by  signs,  that  all  Israel  might  know  them  to 
be  established  prophets. 

(2. )  The  sign  given  was  fire,  that  John  Baptist’s 
saying  concerning  Christ  might  be  fulfilled,  He  shall 
baptize  you  with  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  with  fire: 
with  the  Holy  Ghost,  as  with  fire.  They  were  now, 
in  the  feast  of  pentecost,  celebrating  the  memorial 
of  the  giving  of  the  law  upon  mount  Sinai ;  and  as 
that  was  given  in  fire,  and  therefore  is  called  a  fiery 
law,  so  is  the  gospel.  Ezekiel’s  mission  was  con¬ 
firmed  by  a  vision  of  burning  coals  of  fire,  {ch.  1. 
13.)  and  Isaiah’s  by  a  coal  of  fire  touching  his  lips, 
ch.  6.  7.  The  Spirit,  like  fire,  melts  the  heart, 
separates  and  bums  up  the  dross,  and  kindles  pious 
and  devout  affections  in  the  soul,  in  which,  as  in  the 
fire  upon  the  altar,  the  spiritual  sacrifices  are  offered 
up.  This  is  that  fire  which  Christ  came  to  send 
upon  the  earth.  Luke  12.  49. 

(3.)  This  fire  appeared  in  cloven  tongues.  The 
operations  of  the  Spirit  were  many  ;  that  of  speak¬ 
ing  with  divers  tongues  was  one,  and  was  singled  out 
to  be  the  first  indication  of  the  gift  of  the  Holy  Ghost, 
and  to  that  this  sign  had  a  reference.  [1.  ]  They 
were  tongues ;  for  from  the  Spirit  we  have  the  word 
of  God,  and  by  him  Christ  would  speak  to  the  world, 
and  he  gave  the  Spirit  to  the  disciples,  not  only  to 
endue  them  with  knowledge,  but  to  endue  them  with 
a  power  to  publish  and  proclaim  to  the  world  what 
they  knew  ;  for  the  dispensation  of  the  Spirit  is  given 
to  every  man  to  profit  withal,  (ft.  ]  These  tongues 
were  cloven,  to  signify  that  God  would  hereby 
divide  unto  all  nations  the  knowledge  of  his  grace, 
as  he  is  said  to  have  divided  to  them  by  his  provi¬ 
dence  the  light  of  the  heavenly  bodies,  Deut.  4.  19. 
The  tongues  were  divided,  and  yet  they  still  con¬ 
tinued  all  of  one  accord ;  for  there  may  be  a  sincerity 
of  affections,  where  yet  there  is  a  diversity  of  ex¬ 
pression.  Dr.  Lightfoot  observes,  that  the  dividing 
of  tongues  at  Babel,  was  the  casting  off  of  the  hea¬ 
then  ;  for  when  they  had  lost  the  language  in  which 
alone  God  was  spoken  of  and  preached,  thev  utterly 
lost  the  knowledge  of  God  and  religion,  and  fell  into 
idolatry.  But  now,  after  above  two  thousand  years, 
God,  bv  another  dividing  of  tongues,  restores  the 
knowledge  of  himself  to  the  nations. 

(4.)  This  fire  sat  upon  them  for  some  time,  tj 
show  the  constant  residence  of  the  Holy  Ghost  with 
them.  The  prophetic  gifts  of  old  were  conferred 
sparingly  and  but  at  some  times,' but  the  disciples  of 
Christ  had  the  gifts  of  the  Spirit  always  with  them  ; 
though  the  sign,  we  may  suppose,  soon  disappeared. 
Whether  these  flames  of  fire  passed  from  one  to  an¬ 
other,  or  whether  there  were  as  many  flames  as 
there  were  persons,  is  not  certain.  But  thev  must 
be  strong  and  bright  flames,  that  would  be  visible 
in  the  day-light,  as  it  now  was,  for  the  day  was  fully 
come. 

III.  What  was  the  immediate  effect  of  this  ? 

1.  They  were  all  filled  with  the  Hohj  Ghost,  more 
plentifully  and  powerfully  than  they  were  before. 
They  were  filled  with  the  graces  of  the  Spirit,  and 
were  more  than  ever  under  his  sanctifying  influ¬ 
ences;  were  now  holy,  and  heavenly,  and  spiritual, 
more  weaned  from  this  world,  and  better  acquainted 
with  the  other.  They  were  more  filled  with  the 
comforts  of  the  Spirit,  rejoiced  more  than  ever  in 
the  love  of  Christ  and  the  hope  of  heaven,  and  ir  it 


17 


THE  ACTS,  II. 


all  their  griefs  and  fears  were  swallowed  up.  They 
were  also,  for  the  proof  of  this,  filled  with  the  gifts 
of  the  Holy  Ghost,  which  is  especially  meant  here  ; 
they  were  endued  with  miraculous  powers  for  the 
furtherance  of  the  gospel.  It  seems  evident  to  me, 
that  not  the  twelve  apostles  only,  but  all  the  hundred 
and  twenty  disciples,  were filled  with  the  Holy  Ghost 
alike  at  this  time ;  all  the  seventy  disciples,  who 
were  apostolical  men,  and  employed  in  the  same 
work,  and  all  the  rest  too  that  were  to  preach  the 
gospel;  for  it  is  said  expressly,  (Eph.  4.  8,  11.) 
When  C/frist  ascended  on  high,  (which  refers  to  this, 
v.  33. )  he  gave  gifts  unto  men ,  not  only  some  apos¬ 
tles,  such  were  the  twelve ;  but  some  prophets,  and 
some  evangelists,  such  were  many  of  the  seventy 
disciples,  itinerant  preachers,  and  some  pastors  and 
teachers  settled  in  particular  churches,  as  we  may 
suppose  some  of  these  afterward  were.  The  all 
here,  must  refer  to  the  all  that  were  together,  ch. 
1.  14,  15.— v.  1. 

2.  They  began  to  speak  with  other  tongues,  be¬ 
side  their  native  language,  though  they  had  never 
learned  any  other.  They  spake  not  matters  of 
common  conversation,  but  the  word  of  God,  and  the 
praises  of  his  name,  as  the  Spirit  gave  them  utter¬ 
ance,  or  gave  them  to  speak,  iro<pSi-yyto-Sett — to  speak 
apophthegms,  substantial  and  weighty  sayings,  wor¬ 
thy  to  be  had  in  remembrance.  It  is  probable  that 
it  was  not  only  one  that  was  enabled  to  speak  one 
language,  and  another  another,  (as  it  was  with  the 
several  families  that  were  dispersed  from  Babel,) 
but  that  every  one  was  enabled  to  speak  divers  lan¬ 
guages,  as  he  should  have  occasion  to  use  them. 
And  we  may  suppose  that  they  understood  not  only 
themselves,  but  one  another  too,  which  the  Builders 
of  Babel  did  not,  Gen.  11.  7.  They  did  not  speak 
here  and  there  a  word  of  another  tongue,  or  stam¬ 
mer  out  some  broken  sentences;  but  spake  it  as 
readily,  properly,  and  elegantly,  as  if  it  had  been 
their  mother-tongue ;  for  whatever  was  produced 
by  miracle,  was  the  best  of  the  kind.  They  spake 
not  from  any  previous  thought  or  meditation,  but  as 
the  Spirit  gave  them  utterance  ;  he  furnished  them 
with  the  matter  as  well  as  the  language.  Now  this 
was,  (1.)  A  very  great  miracle,  it  was  a  miracle 
upon  the  mind,  (and  so  had  most  of  the  nature  of  a 
gospel-miracle,)  for  in  the  mind  words  are  framed. 
They  had  not  only  never  learned  these  languages, 
but  had  never  learned  any  foreign  tongue,  which 
might  have  facilitated  these ;  nay,  for  aught  that 
appears,  they  had  never  so  much  as  heard  these 
languages  spoken,  or  had  any  idea  of  them.  They 
were  neither  scholars  nor  travellers ;  nor  had  had 
any  opportunity  of  learning  languages  either  by 
books  or  conversation.  Peter  indeed  was  forward 
enough  to  speak  in  his  own  tongue  ;  but  the  rest  of 
them  were  no  spokesmen,  nor  were  they  quick  of 
apprehension  ;  yet  now  not  only  the  heart  of  the  rash 
understands  knowledge,  but  the  tongue  of  the  stam¬ 
merers  is  ready  to  speak  elegantly,  Isa.  32.  4.  When 
Moses  complained,  I  am  slow  of  speech,  God  said, 
I  will  be  with  thy  mouth,  and  Aaron  shall  be  thy 
spokesman.  But  he  did  more  for  these  messengers 
of  his ;  he  that  made  man’s  mouth,  new  made  theirs. 
(2.)  A  very  proper,  needful,  and  serviceable  mira¬ 
cle.  The  language  the  disciples  spake,  was  Syriac, 
a  dialect  of  the  Hebrew  ;  so  that  it  was  necessary 
that  they  should  be  endued  with  the  gift,  both  for 
the  understanding  of  the  original  Hebrew  of  the  Old 
Testament,  in  which  it  was  written,  and  of  the  origi¬ 
nal  Greek  of  the  New  Testament,  in  which  it  wa'fc 
to  be  written.  But  that  vfas  not  all ;  they  were  com¬ 
missioned  to  preach  the  gospel  to  every' creature,  to 
disciple  all  nations.  But  here  is  an  insuperable 
difficulty  at  the  threshold ;  How  shall  they  master 
the  several  languages  so  as  to  speak  intelligibly  to 
all  nations  ?  It  will  be  the  work  of  a  man’s  life  to 

Vol.  VI. — C 


learn  their  languages.  And  therefore  to  prove  that 
Christ  could  give  authority  to  preach  to  the  nations, 
he  gives  ability  to  preach  to  them  in  their  own  lan¬ 
guage.  And  it  should  seem,  that  this  was  the  ac¬ 
complishment  of  that  promise  which  Christ  made 
to  his  disciples,  (John  14.  12.)  Greater  works  than 
these  shall  ye  do.  For,  this  may  well  be  reckoned, 
all  things  considered,  a  greater  work  than  the  mi¬ 
raculous  cures  Christ  wrought ;  Christ  himself  did 
not  speak  with  other  tongues,  nor  did  he  enable  his 
disciples  to  do  it  while  he  was  with  them  ;  but  it  was 
the  first  effect  of  the  pouring  out  of  the  Spirit  upon 
them.  And  Archbishop  Tillotson  thinks  it  proba¬ 
ble,  that  if  the  conversion  of  infidels  to  Christianity 
were  now  sincerely  and  vigorously  attempted  by 
men  of  honest  minds,  God  would  extraordinarily 
countenance  such  an  attempt  with  all  fitting  assist¬ 
ance,  as  he  did  the  first  publication  of  the  gospel. 

5.  And  there  were  dwelling  at  Jerusalem 
Jews,  devout  men,  out  of  every  nation  un¬ 
derheaven.  6.  Now  when  this  was  noised 
abroad,  the  multitude  came  together,  and 
were  confounded,  because  that  every  man 
heard  them  speak  in  his  own  language.  7. 
And  they  were  all  amazed  and  marvelled, 
saying  one  to  another,  Behold,  are  not  all 
these  which  speak,  Galileans  ?  8.  And 

how  hear  we  every  man  in  our  own  tongue, 
wherein  we  were  born  ?  9.  Parthians,  and 

Medes,  and  Elamites,  and  the  dwellers  in 
Mesopotamia,  and  in  Judea,  and  Cappa¬ 
docia,  in  Pontus,  and  Asia,  10.  Phrygia, 
and  Pamphylia,  in  Egypt,  and  in  the  parts 
of  Libya  about  Cyrene,  and  strangers  of 
Rome,  Jews  and  proselytes,  1 1 .  Cretes  and 
Arabians,  we  do  hear  them  speak  in  our 
tongues  the  wonderful  works  of  God.  12 
And  they  were  all  amazed,  and  were  in 
doubt,  saying  one  to  another,  What  mean- 
eth  this  ?  1 3.  Others  mocking  said,  These 

men  are  full  of  new  wine. 

We  have  here  an  account  of  the  public  notice  that 
was  taken  of  this  extraordinary  gift,  with  which  the 
disciples  were  all  on  a  sudden  endued.  Observe, 

I.  The  great  concourse  of  people  that  there  was 
now  at  Jerusalem  ;  it  should  seem,  more  than  usually 
was  at  the  feast  of  pentecost.  There  were  dwelling 
or  abiding  at  Jerusalem,  Jews  that  were  devout  men, 
disposed  to  religion,  and  that  had  the  fear  of  God 
before  their  eyes,  (so  the  word  properly  signifies, ) 
some  of  them  proselytes  of  righteousness,  that  were 
circumcised,  and  admitted  members  of  the  Jewish 
church,  others  only  proselytes  of  the  gate,  that  for¬ 
sook  idolatry,  and  gave  up  themselves  to  the  wor¬ 
ship  of  the  true  God,  but  not  to  the  ceremonial  law ; 
some  of  those  there  were  at  Jerusalem  now,  out  of 
every  nation  under  heaven,  whither  the  Jews  were 
dispersed,  or  from  whence  proselytes  were  come. 
The  expression  is  hyperbolical,  denoting  that  there 
were  some  from  most  of  the  then  known  parts  of 
the  world ;  as  much  as  ever  Tyre  was,  or  London  is, 
the  rendezvous  of  trading  people  from  all  parts, 
Jerusalem  at  that  time  was  of  religious  people  from 
all  parts.  Now, 

1.  We  may  here  see  what  were  some  of  those 
countries  whence  those  strangers  came;  (v.  9,  11.) 
some  from  the  eastern  countries,  as  the  Parthians, 
Medes,  Elamites,  and  dwellers  in  Mesopotamia,  the 
posterity  of  Shem ;  from  thence  we  come  in  order 
to  Judea,  which  ought  to  be  mentioned,  because* 


18 


THE  ACTS,  II. 


though  the  language  of  them  in  Judea-  was  the  same 
with  that  which  the  disciples  spake,  yet,  before, 
they  spake  it  with  the  north-country  tone  and  dia¬ 
lect,  (  Thou  art  a  Galilean,  and  thy  speech  bewrays 
thee,)  but  now  they  spake  it  as  fine  as  the  inhabi¬ 
tants  of  Judea  themselves  did*.  Next  come  the  in¬ 
habitants  of  Cappadocia,  Pontus,  and  that  countiy 
about  Propontis,  which  was  particularly  called  Asia, 
and  these  were  the  countries  in  which  those  stran- 

?ers  were  scattered,  to  whom  St.  Peter  writes,  1 
et.  1.  1.  Next  come  the  dwellers  in  Phrygia  and 
Pamphylia,  which  lay  westward,  the  posterity  of 
Japhet,  as  were  also  the  strangers  of  Rome ;  there 
were  some  also  that  dwelt  in  the  southern  parts  of 
Egypt,  in  the  parts  of  Libya  about  Cyrene ;  there 
were  also  some  from  the  island  of  Crete,  and  some 
from  the  deserts  of  Arabia ;  but  they  were  all  either 
Jews  originally,  dispersed  into  those  countries ;  or 
proselytes  to  the  Jewish  religion,  but  natives  of  those 
countries.  Dr.  Whitby  observes,  that  the  Jewish 
writers  about  thistime,.as  Philo-and  Josephus,  speak 
of  the  Jews  as  dwelling  every  where  through  the 
whole  earth;  and  that  there  is  not  a  people  upon 
earth  among  whom  some  Jews  do  not  inhabit. 

2.  We  may  inquire,  what  brought  all  those  Jews 
and  proselytes  together  to  Jerusalem  at  this  time? 
not  to  make  a  transient  visit  thither  to  the  feast  of 
pentecost,  for  they  are  said  to  dwell  there;  they 
took  lodgings  there,  because  there  was  at  this  time 
a  general  expectation  of  the  appearing  of  the  Mes¬ 
siah  ;  for  Daniel’s  weeks  were  just  now  expired,  the 
sceptre  was  departed  from  Judah,  it  was  then  gene¬ 
rally  thought  that  the  kingdom  of  God  should  im¬ 
mediately  afifiear,  Luke  19.  11.  This  brought  those 
who  were  most  zealous  and  devout  to  Jerusalem,  to 
sojourn  there,  that  they  might  have  an  early  share 
in  the  kingdom  of  the  Messiah,  and  the  blessings  of 
that  kingdom. 

II.  The  amazement  which  these  strangers  were 
seized  with,  when  they  heard  the  disciples  speak  in 
their  own  tongues.  It  should  seem,  the  disciples 
spake  in  various  languages,  before  the  people  of 
those  languages  came  to  them  ;  for  it  is  intimated, 
( v .  6.)  that  the  spreading  of  the  report  of  this  abroad 
was  it  that  brought  the  multitude  together,  especially 
those  of  different  countries,  who  seem  to  have  been 
more  affected  with  this  work  of  wonder  than  the  in¬ 
habitants  of  Jerusalem  themselves. 

1.  They  observe  that  the  speakers  are  all  Gali¬ 
leans,  that  know  no  other  than  their  mother  tongue  ; 
(y.  7.)  they  are  despicable  men,  from  whom  no¬ 
thing  learned  or  polite  is  to  be  expected.  God 
chose  the  weak  and  foolish  things  of  the  world  to 
confound  the  wise  and  mighty.  Christ  was  thought 
to  be  a  Galilean,  and  his  disciples  really  were  so ; 
unlearned  and  ignorant  men. 

2.  They  acknowledged  that  they  spake  intelligi¬ 
bly  and  readily  their  own  language,  (which  they 
were  the  most  competent  judges  of,)  so  right  and 
exact,  that  none  of  their  own  countrymen  could 
speak  it  better;  IVe  hear  every  man  in  our  own 
tongue  wherein  we  were  born ;  (v.  8. )  that  is,  we 
hear  one  or  other  of  them  speak  our  native  lan¬ 
guage.  The  Parthians  hear  one  of  them  speak  their 
language,  the  Medes  hear  another  of  them  speak 
theirs;  and  so  of  the  rest,  v.  11.  We  do  hear  them 
sjieak  in  our  tongues  the  wonderful  works  of  God. 
Their  respective  languages  were  not  only  unknown 
at  Jerusalem,  but,  probably,  despised  and  under¬ 
valued,  and  therefore  it  was  not  only  a  surprise,  but 
a  pleasing  surprise,  to  them  to  hear  the  language  of 
their  own  country  spoken,  as  it  naturally  is  to  those 
that  are  strangers  in  a  strange  land. 

(1.)  The  things  they  heard  the  apostles  discourse 
of,  were  the  wonderful  works  of  God,  fj.tya.xu*.  t« 

♦  This  is  far  more  ingenious  than  probable.— Ed. 


0t« — Plagnalia  Dei — the  great  things  of  God.  It  is 
probable  that  the  apostles  spake  of  Christ,  and  re 
demption  by  him,  and  the  grace  of  the  gospel ;  these 
are  indeed  the  great  things  of  God,  which  will  be 
for  ever  marvellous  in  our  eyes. 

(2. )  They  heard  them  both  praise  God  for  these 
great  things  and  instruct  the  people  concerning  these 
things,  in  their  own  tongue,  according  as  they  per 
ceived  the  language  of  their  hearers,  or  those  that 
inquired  of  them,  to  be.  Now  though,  perhaps,  by 
dwelling  some  time  at  Jerusalem,  they  were  got  to 
be  so  much  masters  of  the  Jewish  language,  that 
they  could  have  understood  the  meaning  of  the  dis¬ 
ciples,  if  they  had  spoken  that  language,  yet,  [1.] 
This  was  more  strange,  and  helped  to  convince  their 
judgment,  that  this  doctrine  was  of  God ;  for  tongues 
were  for  a  sign  to  them  that  believed  not,  1  Cor. 
14.  22.  [2.1  It  was  more  kind,  and  helped  to  en¬ 

gage  their  affections,  as  it  was  a  plain  indication  of 
the  favour  intended  to  the  Gentiles,  and  that  the 
knowledge  and  worship  of  God  should  no  longer  be 
confined  to  the  Jews,  but  the  partition-wall  should 
be  broken  down  :  and  this  is  to  us  a  plain  intimation 
of  the  mind  and  will  of  God,  that  the  sacred  records 
of  God’s  wonderful  works  should  be  preserved  by 
all  nations  in  their  own  tongue ;  that  the  scriptures 
should  be  read,  and  public  worship  performed,  ir 
the  vulgar  languages  of  the  nations. 

3.  They  wonder  at  it,  and  look  upon  it  as  an  asto 
nishing  thing  ;  (v.  12.)  They  were  all  amazed,  they 
w.ere  in  an  ecstasy,  so  the  word  is  ;  and  they  were 
in  doubt  what  the  meaning  of  it  was,  and  whether  it 
was  to  introduce  the  kingdom  of  the  Messiah,  which 
they  were  big  with  the  expectation  of ;  they  asked 
themselves  and  one  another  t)  civ  btKci  rSro  iiv*i — 
Quid  hoc  sibi  vult? — What  is  the  tendency  of  this  ? 
Surely  it  is  to  dignify,  and  so  to  distinguish,  these 
men  as  messengers  from  heaven  ;  and  therefore, 
like  Moses  at  the  bush,  they  will  turn  aside,  and  see 
this  great  sight. 

III.  The  scorn  which  some  made  of  it,  who  were 
natives  of  Judea  and  Jerusalem,  probably  the  Scribes 
and  Pharisees,  and  chief  priests,  who  always  resist¬ 
ed  the  Holy  Ghost ;  they  said,  These  men  are  full 
of  new  wine,  or  sweet  wine  ;  they  have  drunk  too 
much  this  festival-time,  v.  13.  Not  that  they  were 
so  absurd  as  to  think  that  wine  in  the  head  would 
enable  men  to  speak  languages  which  they  never 
learned  ;  but  these,  being  native  Jews,  knew  not,  as 
the  others  did,  that  these  were  really  the  languages 
of  other  nations,  and  therefore  took  what  they  said 
to  be  gibberish  and  nonsense,  such  as  drunkards, 
those  fools  in  Israel,  sometimes  talk.  As  when  they 
resolved  not  to  believe  the  fnger  of  the  Spirit  in 
Christ’s  miracles,  they  turned  off  with  this,  “  He 
casteth  out  devils  by  compact  with  the  prince  of  the 
devils ;”  so  when  they  resolved  not  to  believe  the 
voice  of  the  Spirit  in  the  apostles’  preaching,  they 
turned  it  off  with  this,  These  men  are  full  of  new 
wine.  And  if  they  called  the  Master  of  the  house 
a  wine-bibber,  no  marvel  if  they  so  call  them  of  his 
household. 

14.  But  Peter,  standing  up  with  the 
eleven,  lifted  up  his  voice,  and  said  unto 
them,  Ye  men  of  Judea,  and  all  ye  that 
dwell  at  Jerusalem,  be  this  known  unto 
you,  and  hearken  to  my  words:  15.  For 
these  are  not  drunken,  as  ye  suppose,  see¬ 
ing  it  is  but  the  third  hour  of  the  day.  16. 
But  this  is  that  which'  was  spoken  by  the 
prophet  Joel ;  1 7.  And  it  shall  come  to 

pass  in  the  last  days,  saith  God,  I  will  pour 
out  of  my  Spirit  upon  all  flesh  :  and  your 


THE  ACTS,  II  19 


sons  and  your  daughters  shall  prophesy,  and 
your  young  men  shall  see  visions,  and  your 
old  men  shall  dream  dreams :  18.  And  on 

my  servants  and  on  my  handmaidens  I  will 
pour  out  in  those  days  of  my  Spirit ;  and 
they  shall  prophesy :  1 9.  And  I  will  shew 
wonders  in  heaven  above,  and  signs  in  the 
earth  beneath  ;  blood,  and  fire,  and  vapour 
of  smoke :  20.  The  sun  shall  be  turned 

into  darkness,  and  the  moon  into  blood,  be¬ 
fore  that  great  and  notable  day  of  the  Lord 
come :  21.  And  it  shall  come  to  pass,  that 
whosoever  shall  call  on  the  name  of  the 
Lord  shall  be  saved.  22.  Ye  men  of  Israel, 
hear  these  words:  Jesus  of  Nazareth,  a 
man  approved  of  God  among  you  by  mira¬ 
cles  and  wonders  and  signs,  which  God  did 
by  him  in  the  midst  of  you,  as  ye  yourselves 
also  know :  23.  Him,  being  delivered  by 
the  determinate  counsel  and  foreknowledge 
of  God,  ye  have  taken,  and  by  wicked , 
hands  have  crucified  and  slaiu :  24.  Whom 
God  hath  raised  up,  having  loosed  the  pains 
of  death :  because  it  was  not  possible  that 
he  should  be  holden  of  it.  25.  For  David 
speaketh  concerning  him,  I  foresaw  the 
Lord  always  before  my  face,  for  he  is  on 
my  right  hand,  that  I  should  not  be  moved  : 
26.  Therefore  did  my  heart  rejoice,  and  my 
tongue  was  glad ;  moreover  also  my  flesh 
shall  rest  in  hope  :  27.  Because  thou  wilt 
not  leave  my  soul  in  hell,  neither  wilt  thou 
suffer  thine  Holy  One  to  see  corruption. 
28.  Thou  hast  made  known  to  me  the  ways 
of  life  ;  thou  shalt  make  me  full  of  joy  with 
thy  countenance.  29.  Men  and  brethren, 
let  me  freely  speak  unto  you  of  the  patri¬ 
arch  David,  that  he  is  both  dead  and  buried, 
and  his  sepulchre  is  with  us  unto  this  day. 
30.  Therefore  being  a  prophet,  and  know¬ 
ing  that  God  had  sworn  with  an  oath  to 
him,  that  of  the  fruit  of  his  loins,  according 
to  the  flesh,  he  would  raise  up  Christ  to  sit 
on  his  throne;  31.  He  seeing  this  before 
spake  of  the  resurrection  of  Christ,  that  his 
soul  was  not  left  in  hell,  neither  his  flesh  did 
see  corruption.  32.  This  Jesus  hath  God 
raised  up,  whereof  we  all  are  witnesses. 
33.  Therefore  being  by  the  right  hand  of 
God  exalted,  and  having  received  of  the 
Father  the  promise  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  he 
hath  shed  forth  this,  which  ye  now  see  and 
hear.  34.  For  David  is  not  ascended  into 
the  heavens:  but  he  saith  himself,  The 
Lord  said  unto  my  Lord,  Sit  thou  on  my 
right  hand,  35.  Until  I  make  thy  foes  thy 
footstool.  36.  Therefore  let  all  the  house 
of  Israel  know  assuredly,  that  God  hath 
made  that  same  Jesus,  whom  ye  have  cru¬ 
cified,  both  Lord  and  Christ. 


We  have  here  the  first  fruits  of  the  Spirit  in  the 
sermon  which  Peter  preached  immediately,  direct 
ed,  not  to  those  of  other  nations  in  a  strange  lan¬ 
guage,  (we  are  not  told  what  answer  he  gave  to 
those  that  were  amazed,  and  said,  What  meaneth 
this? )  but  to  the  Jews  in  the  vulgar  language,  even 
to  them  that  mocked,  for  he  begins  with  the  notice 
of  that,  (y.  15.)  and  addresses  his  discourse  (v.  14.) 
to  the  men  of  Judea  and  inhabitants  of  Jerusalem  ; 
but  we  have  reason  enough  to  think  that  the  other 
disciples  continued  to  speak  to  those  who  understood 
them,  (and  therefore  flocked  about  them,)  in  the 
languages  of  their  respective  countries,  the  wonder¬ 
ful  works  of  God.  And  it  was  not  by  Peter’s 
preaching  only,  but  that  of  all,  or  most,  of  the  rest 
of  the  hundred  and  twenty,  that  three  thousand  souls 
were  that  day  converted,  and  added  to  the  church  ; 
but  Peter’s  sermon  only  is  recorded,  to  be  an  evi¬ 
dence  for  him  that  he  was  thoroughly  recovered 
from  his  fall,  and  thoroughly  restored  to  the  divine 
favour ;  he  that  had  sneakingly  denied  Christ,  now 
as  courageously  confesses  him.  Observe, 

I.  His  introduction  or  preface,  wherein  he  craves 
the  attention  of  the  auditory,  or  dfemands  it  rather ; 
Peter  stood  up  (y.  14.)  to  shew  that  he  was  not 
drunk,  with  the  eleven,  who  concurred  with  him  in 
what  he  said,  and,  probably,  in  their  turns  spake 
likewise  to  the  same  purport  ;  they  that  were  of 
greatest  authority,  stood  up  to  speak  to  the  scoffing 
Jews,  and  to  confront  those  who  contradicted  and 
blasphemed,  but  left  the  seventy  disciples  to  speak  to 
the  willing  proselytes  from  other  nations,  who  were 
not  so  prejudiced,  in  their  own  language.  Thus 
among  Christ’s  ministers,  some  of  greater  gifts  are 
called  out  to  instruct  those  that  oppose  themselves, 
to  take  hold  of  sword  and  spear  ;  others  of  meaner 
abilities  are  employed  in  instructing  those  that  re¬ 
sign  themselves,  and  to  be  vine-dressers  and  hus¬ 
bandmen.  Peter  lifted  up  his  voice,  as  one  that  was 
both  well  assured  of,  and  much  affected  with,  what 
he  said,  and  was  neither  afr?.id  nor  ashamed  to  own 
it.  He  applied  himself  to  the  men  of  Judea,  avJW 
ltsioLioi — the  men  that  were  Jews ;  so  it  should  be 
read  ;  “  And  you  especially  that  dwell  at  Jerusalem, 
who  were  accessary  to  the  death  of  Jesus,  be  this 
known  unto  you,  which  you  did  not  know  before, 
and  which  you  are  concerned  to  know  now,  and  to 
hearken  to  my  words,  who  would  draw  you  to  Christ, 
and  not  to  the  words  of  the  Scribes  and  Pharisees, 
that  would  draw  you  from  him.  My  Master  is  gone, 
whose  words  you  have  often  heard  in  vain,  but  shall 
hear  no  more  as  you  have  alone,  but  he  speaks  to 
you  by  us  ;  hearken  now  to  our  words.” 

II.  His  answer  to  their  blasphemous  calumny  ;  (i>. 
15.)  “  These  men  are  not  drunken,  as  you  suppose. 
These  disciples  of  Christ,  that  now  speak  with  other 
tongues,  speak  good  sense,  and  know  what  they  say, 
and  so  do  these  they  speak  to,  who  are  led  by  their 
discourses  into  the  knowledge  of  the  wonderful  works 
of  God,  You  cannot  think  they  are  drunk,  for  it  is 
but  the  third  hour  of  the  day  nine  of  the  clock  in 
the  morning  ;  and  before  that  time,  on  the  sabbaths 
and  solemn  feasts,  the  Jews  did  not  use  to  eat  or 
drink  :  nay,  ordinarily  they  that  are  drunk,  are 
drunk  in  the  night,  and  not  in  the  morning  ;  those 
are  besotted  drunkards  indeed,  who,  when  they  are 
awake,  presently  seek  it  yet  again,  Prov.  23.  35. 

III.  His  account  of  the  miraculous  effusion  of  the 
Spirit,  which  is  designed  to  awaken  them  all  to  em¬ 
brace  the  faith  of  Christ,  and  to  join  themselves  to 
his  church.  T wo  things  he  resolves  it  into — that  it 
was  the  fulfilling  of  the  scripture,  and  the  fruit  of 
Christ’s  resurrection  and  ascension,  and,  conse¬ 
quently,  the  proof  of  both. 

1.  That  it  wras  the  accomplishment  of  the  prophe¬ 
cies  of  the  Old  Testament,  which  related  to  the 
kingdom  of  the  Messiah,  and  therefore  an  evidence 


20 


THE  ACTS,  II. 


that  that  kingdom  is  come,  and  the  other  predictions 
of  it  are  fulfilled.  He  specifies  one,  that  of  the  pro¬ 
phet  Joel,  ch.  2.  28.  It  is  observable,  that  though 
Peter  was  Jilled  with  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  spake  with 
tongues  as  the  Spirit  gave  him  utterance,  yet  he  did 
not  set  aside  the  scriptures,  nor  think  himself  above 
them  ;  nay,  much  of  his  discourse  is  quotation  out  of 
the  Old  Testament,  to  which  he  appeals,  and  with 
which  he  proves  what  he  says.  Christ’s  scholars  ne¬ 
ver  learn  above  their  Bible  ;  and  the  Spirit  is  given 
not  to  supersede  the  scriptures,  but  to  enable  us  to 
understand  and  improve  the  scriptures.  Observe, 

(1.)  The  text  itself  that  Peter  quotes,  v.  17 — 21. 
It  refers  to  the  last  days,  the  times  of  the  gospel, 
which  are  therefore  called  the  last  days,  because  the 
dispensation  of  God’s  kingdom  among  men,  which 
the  gospel  sets  up,  is  the  last  dispensation  of  divine 
grace,  and  we  are  to  look  for  no  other  than  the  con¬ 
tinuation  of  that  to  the  end  of  time.  Or,  in  the  last 
days,  that  is,  a  great  while  after  the  ceasing  of  pro¬ 
phecy  in  the  Old  Testament  church.  Or,  in  the  day 
immediately  preceding  the  destruction  of  the  Jewish 
nation,  in  the  last  days  of  that  people,  just  before 
that  great  and  notable  day  of  the  Lord,  spoken  of, 
x'.  20.  “It  was  prophesied  of  and  promised,  and 
therefore  you  ought  to  expect  it,  and  not  to  be  sur¬ 
prised  at  it ;  to  desire  it,  and  bid  it  welcome,  and 
not  to  dispute  it,  as  not  worth  taking  notice  of.” 
The  apostle  quotes  the  whole  paragraph,  for  it  is 
good  to  take  the  scripture  entire  ;  now  it  was  fore¬ 
told, 

[1.]  That  there  should  be  a  more  plentiful  and 
extensive  effusion  of  the  Spirit  of  grace  from  on  high 
than  had  been  ever  yet.  The  prophets  of  the  Old 
Testament  had  been  filled  with  the  Holy  Ghost,  and 
it  was  said  of  the  people  of  Israel,  that  God  gave 
diem  his  good  Spirit  to  instruct  them,  Neh.  9.  20. 
But  now  the  Spirit  shall  be  poured  out,  not  only  upon 
the  Jews,  but  upon  all  fiesh,  Gentiles  as  well  as 
Jews  ;  though  yet  Peter  himself  did  not  understand 
it  so,  it  appears,  ch.  11.  17.  Or,  upon  all  fiesh,  that 
is,  upon  some  of  all  ranks  and  conditions  of  men. 
The  Jewish  doctors  taught,  that  the  Spirit  came  only 
upon  wise  and  rich  men,  and  such  as  were  of  the  seed 
of  Israel;  but  God  will  not  tie  himself  to  their 
rules. 

[2.  ]  That  the  Spirit  should  be  in  them  a  Spirit  of 
prophesy  ;  by  the  Spirit  they  should  be  enabled  to 
foretell  things  to  come,  and  to  preach  the  gospel  to 
every  creature.  This  power  shall  be  given  without 
distinction  of  sex  ;  not  only  your  sons,  but  your 
daughters  shall  prophesy ;  without  distinction  of 
age,  both  your  young  men  and  your  old  men  shall 
see  visions,  and  dream  dreams,  and  in  them  receive 
divine  revelations,  to  be  communicated  to  the 
church ;  and  without  distinction  of  outward  condi¬ 
tion,  even  the  servants  and  handmaids  shall  receive 
of  the  Spirit,  and  shall  prophesy,  (y.  18.)  or,  in  ge¬ 
neral,  men  and  women,  whom  God  calls  his  servants 
and  his  handmaids.  In  the  beginning  of  the  age  of 
prophesy  in  the  Old  Testament,  there  were  schools 
of  the  prophets,  and,  before  that,  the  Spirit  of  pro¬ 
phecy  came  upon  the  elders  of  Israel  that  were  ap¬ 
pointed  to  the  government  ;  but  now  the  Spirit  shall 
be  poured  out  upon  persons  of  inferior  rank,  and 
such  as  were  not  brought  up  in  the  schools  of  the 
prophets,  for  the  kingdom  of  the  Messiah  is  to  be 
purely  spiritual.  The  mention  of  the  daughters  {v. 
17.)  and  the  handmaidens  (v.  18.)  would  make  one 
think  that  the  women  which  were  taken  notice  of, 

( rh .  1.  14.)  received  the  extraordinary  gifts  of  the 
Holi/  Ghost,  as  well  as  the  men.  Philip,  the  evan¬ 
gelist,  had  four  daughters  who  did  prophesy,  ( ch . 
21.  9.)  and  therefore  St.  Paul,  finding  abundance  of 
the  gifts  both  of  tongues  and  prophesy  in  the  church 
of  Corinth,  saw  it  needful  to  prohibit  women’s  use 
of  those  gifts  in  public,  1  Cor.  14.  26,  34. 


[3.]  That  one  great  thing  which  they  should  pro¬ 
phesy  of  should  be  the  judgments  that  were  coming 
upon  the  Jewish  nation,  for  this  was  the  chief  thing 
that  Christ  himself  had  foretold  (Matt.  24.)  at  his 
entrance  into  Jerusalem,  (Luke  19.  41. )  and  when  he 
was  going  to  die  ;  (Luke  23.  29. )  and  these  judg 
ments  were  to  be  brought  upon  them,  to  punish 
them  for  their  contempt  of  the  gospel,  and  their  op¬ 
position  to  it,  though  it  came  to  them  thus  proved. 
They  that  would  not  submit  to  the  power  of  God’s 
grace  in  this  wonderf  ul  effusion  of  his  Spirit,  should 
fall  and  lie  under  the  pourings  out  of  the  vials  of  his 
wrath.  They  shall  break,  that  will  not  bend. 

First,  The  destruction  of  Jerusalem,  which  was 
about  forty  years  after  Christ’s  death,  is  here  called 
that  great  and  notable  day  of  the  Lord,  because  it 
put  a  final  period  to  the  Mosaic  economy  ;  the  Le- 
vitical  priesthood  and  the  ceremonial  law  were 
thereby  for  ever  abolished  and  done  away.  The 
desolation  itself  was  such  as  was  never  brought  upon 
any  place  or  nation,  either  before  or  since.  It  was 
the  day  of  the  Lord,  for  it  was  the  day  of  his  ven¬ 
geance  upon  that  people  for  crucifying  Christ,  and 
persecuting  his  ministers ;  it  was  the  year  of  recom¬ 
penses  for  that  controversy  ;  yea,  and  for  all  the 
blood  of  the  saints  and  martyrs,  from  the  blood  of 
righteous  Abel,  Matt.  23.  35.  It  was  a  little  day  of 
judgment ;  it  was  a  notable  day :  in  Joel  it  is  called 
a  terrible  day,  for  so  it  was  to  men  on  earth  ;  but 
here  Wtour*,  (after  the  Seventy,  shews)  a  glorious, 
illustrious  day,  for  so  it  was  to  Christ  in  heaven,  it 
was  the  epiphany,  his  appearing,  so  he  himself 
spake  of  it,  Matt.  24.  30.  The  destruction  of  the 
Jews  was  the  deliverance  of  the  Christians,  that  were 
hated  arid  persecuted  by  them  ',  and  therefore  that 
day  was  often  spoken  of  by  the  prophets  of  that  time, 
for  the  encouragement  of  suffering  Christians,  that 
the  Lord  was  at  hand,  the  coming  of  the  Lord  drew 
nigh,  the  Judge  stood  before  the  door,  James  5.  8,  9. 

Secondly,  The  terrible  presages  of  that  destruc¬ 
tion  are  here  foretold ;  There  shall  be  wonders  in 
heaven  above,  the  sun  turned  into  darkness,  and  the 
moon  into  blood;  and  signs  too  in  the  earth  beneath, 
blood  and  fire.  Josephus,  in  his  preface  to  his  his¬ 
tory  of  the  wars  of  the  Jews,  speaks  of  the  signs  and 
prodigies  that  preceded  them,  terrible  thunders, 
lightnings  and  earthquakes  ;  there  was  a  fiery  comet 
that  hung  over  the  city  for  a  year,  and  a  flaming 
sword  was  seen  pointing  down  upon  it ;  a  light  shone 
upon  the  temple  and  the  altar  at  midnight,  as  if  it 
had  been  noon-day.  Dr.  Lightfoot  gives  another 
sense  of  these  presages ;  The  blood  of  the  So?i  of 
God,  the  fire  of  the  Holy  Ghost  now  appearing,  the 
vapour  of  the  smoke  in  which  Christ  ascended,  the 
sun  darkened,  and  the  moon  made  blood,  at  the  time 
of  Christ’s  passion,  were  all  loud  warnings  given  to 
that  unbelieving  people  to  prepare  for  the  judgments 
coming  upon  them.  Or,  it  may  be  applied,  and  very 
fitly,  to  the  previous  judgments  themselves,  by 
which  that  desolation  was  brought  on.  The  blood 
points  at  the  wars  of  the  Jews  with  the  neighbouring 
nations,  with  the  Samaritans,  Syrians,  and  Greeks, 
in  which  abundance  of  blood  was  shed,  as  there  was 
also  in  their  civil  wars,  and  the  struggles  of  the  sedi¬ 
tious,  (as  they  called  them,)  which  were  very  bloodv  ; 
there  was  no  peace  to  him  that  went  out,  or  to  him 
that  came  in.  The  fire  and  vapour  of  smoke,  here 
foretold,  literally  came  to  pass  in  the  burning  of 
their  cities,  and  towns,  and  synagogues,  and  temple 
at  last.  And  this  turning  of  the  sun  into  darkness, 
and  the  moon  into  blood,  speaks  the  dissolution  of 
their  government,  civil  and  sacred,  and  the  extin 
guishing  of  all  their  lights. 

Thirdly,  The  signal  preservation  of  the  Lord’s 
people  is  here  promised;  (v.  21.)  IVhosoever  shall 
call  upon  the  name  of  the  Lord  Jesus,  (which  is  the 
description  of  a  trvie  Christian,  1  Cor.  1.  2.)  shall  be 


21 


THE  ACTS,  II. 


saved,  shall  escape  that  judgment,  which  shall  be  a 
type  and  earnest  of  everlasting  salvation.  In  the 
destruction  of  Jerusalem  by  the  Chaldeans,  there 
was  a  remnant  sealed  to  be  hid  in  the  day  of  the 
Lord’s  anger ;  and  in  the  destruction  by  the  Romans 
not  one  Christian  perished.  They  that  distinguish 
themselves  by  singular  piety,  shall  be  distinguished 
by  special  preservation.  And  observe,  the  saved 
remnant  are  described  by  this,  that  they  are  a  pray¬ 
ing  people  ;  they  call  on  the  name  of  the  Lord ; 
which  intimates  that  they  are  not  saved  by  any  merit 
or  righteousness  of  their  own,  but  purely  by  the  fa¬ 
vour  of  God,  which  must  be  sued  out  by  prayer.  It 
is  the  name  of  the  Lord  which  they  call  ufion,  that 
is  their  strong  tower. 

(2. )  The  application  of  this  prophecy  to  the  pre¬ 
sent  event ;  (z>.  16.)  This  is  that  which  was  sfioken 
by  the  prophet  Joel ;  it  is  the  accomplishment  of 
that,  it  is  the  full  accomplishment  of  it.  This  is  that 
effusion  of  the  Spirit  upon  all  flesh,  which  should 
come,  and  we  are  to  look  for  no  other,  no  more  than 
we  are  to  look  for  another  Messiah  ;  for  as  our  Mes¬ 
siah  ever  lives  in  heaven,  reigning  and  interceding 
for  his  church  on  earth  ;  so  this  Spirit  of  grace,  the 
Advocate,  or  Comforter,  that  was  given  now,  ac¬ 
cording  to  the  promise,  will,  according  to  the  same 
promise,  continue  with  the  church  on  earth  to  the 
end,  and  will  work  all  its  works  in  it  and  for  it,  and 
every  member  of  it,  ordinary  and  extraordinary,  by 
the  means  of  the  scriptures  and  the  ministry. 

2.  That  it  was  the  gift  of  Christ,  and  the  product 
and  proof  of  his  resurrection  and  ascension.  From 
this  gift  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  he  takes  occasion  to 
preach  unto  them  Jesus ;  and  this  part  of  his  ser¬ 
mon  he  introduces  with  another  solemn  preface  ; 
(t>.  22.)  “  Ye  men  of  Israel,  hear  these  words.  It  is 
a  mercy  that  ye  are  within  hearing  of  them,  and  it 
is  your  duty  to  give  heed  to  them.  ”  Words  concern¬ 
ing  Christ  should  be  acceptable  words  to  the  men 
of  Israel.  Here  is, 

(1.)  An  abstract  of  the  history  of  the  life  of  Christ, 
v.  22.  He  calls  him  Jesus  of  JVazareth,  because  by 
that  name  he  was  generally  known,  but  (which  was 
sufficient  to  roll  away  that  reproach)  he  was  a  Alan 
approved  of  God  among  you,  censured  and  con¬ 
demned  by  men,  but  approved  of  God  ;  God  testi¬ 
fied  his  approbation  of  his  doctrine  by  the  power  he 
gave  him  to  work  miracles:  a  man  marked  out  by 
God ;  so  Dr.  Hammond  reads  it ;  “signalized,  and 
made  remarkable  among  you  that  now  hear  me ; 
he  was  sent  to  you,  set  up,  a  glorious  Light  in  your 
land  ;  you  yourselves  are  witnesses,  how  he  became 
famous  by  miracles,  wonders,  and  signs,  works 
above  the  power  of  nature,  out  of  its  ordinary  course, 
and  contrary  to  it,  which  God  did  by  him  ;  that  is, 
which  he  did  by  that  divine  power,  with  which  he 
was  clothed,  and  in  which  God  plainly  went  along 
with  him  ;  for  no  man  could  do  such  works,  unless 
God  were  with  him.”  See  what  a  stress  Peter  lays 
upon  Christ’s  miracles  !  [1.  ]  The  matter  of  fact  was 
not  to  be  denied  ;  “  They  were  done  in  the  midst  of 
you,  in  the  midst  of  your  country,  your  city,  your 
solemn  assemblies,  as  ye  yourselves  also  know.  Ye 
have  been  eye-witnesses  of  his  miracles  ;  I  appeal  to 
yourselves,  whether  ye  have  any  thing  to  object 
against  them,  or  can  offer  any  thing  to  disprove 
them.”  [2.]  The  inference  from  them  cannot  be 
disputed  ;  the  reasoning  is  as  strong  as  the  evidence; 
if  he  did  those  miracles,  certainly  God  approved 
him,  declared  him  to  be,  what  he  declared  himself 
to  be,  the  Son  o  f  God,  and  the  Saviour  of  the  world ; 
for  the  God  of  truth  would  never  set  his  seal  to  a 
lie. 

(2.)  An  account  of  his  death  and  sufferings,  which 
they  were  witnesses  of  also  but  a  few  weeks  ago  ; 
and  this  was  the  greatest  miracle  of  all,  that  a  Alan 
approved  of  God  should  thus  seem  to  be  abandoned 


of  him  ;  and  a  Man  thus  approved  among  the  peo¬ 
ple,  and  in  the  midst  of  them,  should  be  thus  aban¬ 
doned  by  them  too  !  But  both  these  mysteries  are 
here  explained,  (u.  23. )  and  his  death  considered, 

[1.]  As  God’s  act ;  and  in  him  it  was  an  act  of 
wonderful  grace  and  wisdom.  He  delivered  him  to 
death  ;  not  only  permitted  him  to  be  put  to  death, 
but  gave  him  up,  devoted  him  ;  this  is  explained 
Rom.  8.  32.  He  delivered  him  up  for  us  all.  And 
yet  he  was  approved  of  God,  and  there  was  nothing 
in  this  that  signified  the  disapproving  of  him  ;  for  it 
was  done  by  the  determinate  counsel  and  foreknow¬ 
ledge  of  God,  in  infinite  wisdom,  and  for  holy  ends, 
which  Christ  himself  concuri’ed  in,  and  in  the  means 
leading  to  them.  Thus  divine  justice  must  be  satis¬ 
fied,  sinners  saved,  God  and  man  brought  together 
again,  and  Christ  himself  glorified.  It  was  not  only 
according  to  the  will  -of  God,  but  according  to  the 
counsel  of  his  will,  that  he  suffered  and  died  ;  ac¬ 
cording  to  an  eternal  counsel,  which  could  not  be 
altered.  This  reconciled  him  to  the  cross,  Father, 
thy  will  be  done  ;  and  Father,  glorify  thy  name  ;  let 
thy  purpose  take  effect,  and  let  the  great  end  of  it 
be  attained. 

[2.  ]  As  the  people’s  act ;  and  in  them  it  was  an 
act  of  prodigious  sin  and  folly ;  it  was  fighting 
against  God,  to  persecute  one  whom  he  approved 
as  the  Darling  of  heaven  ;  and  fighting  against  their 
own  jnercies,  to  persecute  one  that  was  the  greatest 
Blessing  of  this  earth.  Neither  God’s  designing  it 
from  eternity,  nor  his  bringing  good  out  of  it  to  eter¬ 
nity,  would  m  the  least  excuse  their  sin  ;  for  it  was 
their  voluntary  act  and  deed,  from  a  principle  mo¬ 
rally  evil ;  and  therefore  they  were  wicked  hands 
with  which  ye  have  crucified  and  slain  him.  It  is 
probable  that  some  of  those  were  here  present,  who 
had  cried,  Crucify  him,  crucify  him  ;  or  had  been 
otherwise  aiding  and  abetting  in  the  murder  ;  and 
Peter  knew  it.  However,  it  was  justly  looked  upon 
as  a  national  act,  because  done  both  by  the  vote  of 
the  great  council  and  by  the  voice  of  the  great 
crowd.  It  is  a  rule,  Refertur  ad  universos  quod 
publice  fit  per  majorem  partem — We  attribute  to 
all,  that  which  is  done  publicly  by  the  greater  part. 
He  charges  it  particularly  on  them  as  parts  of  the 
nation  on  which  it  would  be  visited,  the  more  ef¬ 
fectually  to  bring  them  to  faith  and  repentance,  be¬ 
cause  that  was  the  only  way  to  distinguish  them 
selves  from  the  guilty,  and  discharge  themselves 
from  the  guilt. 

(3.)  An  attestation  of  his  resurrection,  which  ef 
fectually  wiped  away  the  reproach  of  his  death  ;  ( v 
24.)  Whom  God  raised  up;  the  same  that  delivered 
him  to  death,  delivered  him  from  death,  and  there¬ 
by  gave  a  higher  approbation  of  him  than  he  had 
done  by  any  other  of  the  signs  and  wonders  wrought 
by  him,  or  by  all  put  together.  This  therefore  he 
insists  most  largely  upon. 

[1.]  He  describes  his  resurrection;  God  loosed 
the  bands  of  death,  because  it  was  impossible,  that  he 
should  be  holden  of  it;  Mime — the  sorrows  of  death  ; 
the  word  is  used  for  travailing  pains ;  and  some 
think  it  signifies  Mr  trouble  and  agony  of  his  soul,  in 
which  it  was  exceeding  sorrovjful,  even  to  the  death  ; 
from  these  pains  and  sorrows  of  soul,  this  travail  of 
soul,  the  Father  loosed  him,  when  at  his  death,  he 
said,  It  is  finished.  Thus  Dr.  Goodwin  understands 
it :  “  Those  terrors  which  made  Hemah*s  soul  lie 
like  the  slain,  (Ps.  88.  15.)  these  had  hold  of  Christ; 
but  he  was  too  strong  for  them,  and  broke  through 
them  ;  this  was  the  resurrection  of  his  soul,  (and  it 
is  a  great  thing  to  bring  a  soul  out  of  the  depths  of 
spiritual  agonies,)  this  was  not  leaving  his  soul  in 
hell;  as  that  which  follows,  that  he  should  not  see 
corruption,  speaks  of  the  resurrection  of  his  body  ; 
and  both  together  make  up  the  great  resurrection .” 
Dr.  Lightfont  gives  another  sense  of  this  :  “  Having 


2  2 


THE  ACTS,  II. 


aissolved  the  pains  of  aeath,  in  reference  to  all  that 
believe  in  him,  God  raised  up  Christ,  and  by  his  re¬ 
surrection  broke  all  the  power  of  death,  and  de¬ 
stroyed  its  pangs  upon  his  own  people.  He  has 
abolished  death,  has  altered  the  property  of  it,  and 
because  it  was  not  possible  that  he  should  be  long 
holden  of  it,  it  is  not  possible  that  they  should  be  for 
ever  holden.  ”  But  most  refer  this  to  the  resurrec¬ 
tion  of  Christ’s  body.  And  death,  (says  Mr.  Bax¬ 
ter,  )  as  a  separation  between  soul  and  body,  is  by 
privation  a  penal  state,  though  not  dolorous  by  po¬ 
sitive  evil.  But  Dr.  Hammond  shews,  that  the 
Septuagint,  and  from  them  the  apostle  here,  uses 
the  word  for  cords  and  bands,  (as  Ps.  18.  4. )  to 
which  the  metaphor  of  loosing  and  being  held  best 
agree.  Christ  was  imprisoned  for  our  debt,  was 
thrown  into  the  bands  of  death ;  but  divine  justice 
being  satisfied,  it  was  not  possible  he  should  be  de¬ 
tained  there,  either  by  right  or  by  force ;  for  he  had 
life  in  himself,  and  in  his  own  power,  and  had  con¬ 
quered  the  prince  of  death. 

[2.  ]  He  attests  the  truth  of  his  resurrection  ;  ( v . 
32. )  God  hath  raised  him  up,  whereof  we  are  all  wit¬ 
nesses  ;  we  apostles,  and  other  our  companions,  that 
were  intimately  acquainted  with  him  before  his 
death,  were  intimately  conversant  with  him  after 
his  resurrection,  did  eat  and  drink  with  him.  They 
received  power,  by  the  descent  of  the  Holy  Ghost 
upon  them,  on  purpose  that  they  might  be  skilful, 
faithful,  and  courageous  witnesses  of  this  thing,  not¬ 
withstanding  their  being  charged  by  his  enemies  as 
having  stolen  him  away. 

[3.]  He  shewed  it  to  be  the  fulfilling  of  the  scrip¬ 
ture,  and,  because  the  scripture  had  said  that  he 
must  rise  again  before  he  saw  corruption,  therefore 
it  was  impossible  that  he  should  be  holden  by  death 
and  the  grave ;  for  David  speaks  of  his  being  raised, 
so  it  comes  in,  v.  25.  The  scripture  he  refers  to,  is 
that  of  David,  (Ps.  16.  8 — 11.)  which,  though  in 
part  applicable  to  David  as  a  saint,  yet  refers  chiefly 
to  Jesus  Christ,  of  whom  David  was  a  type.  Here  is, 

First,  'l'he  text  quoted  at  large,  (v.  25 — 28.)  for 
it  was  all  fulfilled  in  him,  and  shews  us, 

1.  The  constant  regard  that  our  Lord  Jesus  had  to 
his  Father  in  his  whole  undertaking  ;  I  foresaw  the 
Lord  before  me  continually.  He  set  before  him  his 
Father’s  glory  as  his  end  in  all ;  foresaw  that  his 
sufferings  would  redound  abundantly  to  the  honour 
of  God,  and  would  issue  in  his  own  joy  ;  these  were 
set  before  him,  and  these  he  had  an  eye  to,  in  all  he 
did  and  suffered  ;  and  with  the  prospect  of  these  he 
was  borne  up  and  carried  on,  John  13.  31,  32. — 17. 
4,  5. 

2.  The  assurance  he  had  of  his  Father’s  presence 
and  power  going  along  with  him  ;  “  He  is  on  my 
right  hand,  the  hand  of  action,  strengthening,  guid¬ 
ing,  and  upholding  that,  that  I  should  not  be  moved, 
or  driven  off  from  my  undertaking,  notwithstanding 
the  hardships  I  must  undergo this  was  an  article 
of  the  covenant  of  redemption;  (Ps.  89.  21.)  With 
him  my  hand  shall  be  established,  my  arm  also  shall 
strengthen  him  ;  and  therefore  he  is  confident  the 
work  shall  not  miscarry  in  his  hand.  If  God  be  at 
our  right  hand,  we  shall  not  be  moved. 

3.  The  cheerfulness  with  which  our  Lord  Jesus 
went  on  in  his  work,  notwithstanding  the  sorrows  he 
was  to  pass  through  ;  “ Being  satisfied  that  I  shall 
not  be  moved,  but  the  good  pleasure  of  the  Lord 
shall  prosper  in  my  hand,  therefore  doth  my  heart 
rejoice,  and  my  tongue  is  glad,' and  the  thought  of 
my  sorrow  is  as  nothing  to  me.”  Note,  It  was  a 
constant  pleasure  to  our  Lord  Jesus  to  look  to  the  end 
of  his  work,  and  to  be  sure  that  the  issue  would  be 
glorious ;  so  well  pleased  was  he  with  his  undertak¬ 
ing,  that  it  does  his  heart  good  to  think  how  the  is¬ 
sue  would  answer  the  design  !  He  rejoiced  in  spirit, 
Luke  10.  21.  My  tongue  was  glad.  In  the  psalm 


it  is,  My  glory  rejoiceth  ;  which  intimates,  that  our 
tongue  is  our  glory,  the  faculty  of  speaking  is  an 
honour  to  us,  and  never  more  so,  than  when  it  is  em¬ 
ployed  in  praising  God.  Christ’s  tongue  was  glad, 
for  when  he  was  just  entering  upon  his  sufferings,  in 
the  close  of  his  last  supper,  he  sang  a  hymn. 

4.  The  pleasing  prospect  he  had  of  the  happy  is¬ 
sue  of  his  death  and  sufferings ;  this  was  it  that  car¬ 
ried  him,  not  only  with  courage,  but  with  cheerful¬ 
ness,  through  them  ;  he  was  putting  off  the  body, 
but  my  flesh  shall  rest ;  the  grave  shall  be  to  the 
body,  while  it  lies  there,  a  bed  of  repose,  and  hope 
shall  give  it  a  sweet  repose ;  it  shall  rest  in  hope,  on, 
that  thou  wilt  not  leave  my  soul  in  hell;  what  fol¬ 
lows  is  the  matter  of  his  hope,  or  assurance  rather : 

(1.)  That  the  soul  shall  not  continue  in  a  state  of 
separation  from  the  body  ;  for,  beside  that  that  is 
some  uneasiness  to  a  human  soul  made  for  its  body, 
it  would  be  the  continuance  of  death’s  triumph  over 
him  who  was  in  truth  a  Conqueror  over  death  ; 
“  Thou  wilt  not  leave  my  soul  in  hell;”  (in  hades, 
in  the  invisible  state,  so  hades  properly  signifies ;) 
“but,  though  thou  suffer  it  for  a  time  to  remove 
thither,  and  to  remain  there,  yet  thou  wilt  remand 
it ;  thou  wilt  not  leave  it  there,  as  thou  dost  the  souls 
of  other  men.” 

(2.)  That  the  body  shall  lie  but  a  little  while  in  the 
grave ;  Thou  wilt  not  suffer  thy  Holy  One  to  see  cor¬ 
ruption  ;  the  body  shall  not  continue  dead  so  long, 
that  it  should  begin  to  putrefy,  or  become  noisome  ; 
and  therefore  it  must  return  to  life,  on,  or  before,  the 
third  day  after  its  death.  Christ  was  God’s  Holy 
One,  sanctified  and  set  apart  to  his  service  in  the 
work  of  redemption  ;  he  must  die,  for  he  must  be 
consecrated  by  his  own  blood;'  but  he  must  not  see 
corruption,  for  his  death  was  to  be  unto  God  of  a 
sweet  smelling  savour.  This  was  typified  by  the 
law  concerning  the  sacrifices,  that  no  part  of  the 
flesh  of  the  sacrifices  which  was  to  be  eaten,  should 
be  kept  till  the  third  day,  for  fear  it  should  see  cor¬ 
ruption,  and  begin  to  putrefy.  Lev.  7.  15 — 18. 

(3.)  That  his  death  and  sufferings  should  be.  not 
to  him  only,  but  to  all  his,  an  inlet  to  the  blessed  im¬ 
mortality  ;  “  Thou  hast  made  known  to  me  the  ways 
of  life,  and  by  me  made  them  known  to  the  world, 
and  laid  them  open.”  When  the  Father  gave  to  the 
Son  to  have  life  in  himself,  a  power  to  lay  down  his 
life,  and  to  take  it  again,  then  he  shewed  him  the 
ways  of  life,  both  to  and  fro  :  the  gates  of  death 
were  opened  to  him,  and  the  doors  of  the  shadow  of 
death,  (Job  38.  17.)  to  pass  and  repass  through  them, 
as  his  occasions  led  him,  for  man’s  redemption. 

(4.)  That  all  his  sorrows  and  sufferings  should 
end  in  perfect  and  perpetual  felicity  ;  Thou  shall 
make  me  full  of  joy  with  thy  countenance.  The 
reward  set  before  him,  was,  joy,  a  fulness  of  joy, 
and  that  in  God’s  countenance,  in  the  countenance 
he  gave  to  his  undertaking,  and  to  all  those,  for  his 
sake,  that  should  believe  in  him.  The  smiles  with 
which  the  Father  received  him,  when,  at  his  ascen¬ 
sion,  he  was  brought  to  the  Ancient  of  days,  filled 
him  with  joy  unspeakable :  and  that  is  the  joy  of 
our  Lord,  into  which  all  his  shall  enter,  and  in  which 
they  shall  be  for  ever  happy. 

Secondly,  The  comment  upon  this  text,  especially 
so  much  of  it  as  relates  to  the  resurrection  of  Christ. 
He  addresses  himself  to  them  with  a  title  of  respect. 
Men  and  brethren,  v.  29.  “You  are  men,  and 
therefore  should  be  ruled  by  reason  ;  you  are  breth¬ 
ren,  and  therefore  should  take  kindly  what  is  said 
to  you  by  one  who,  being  nearly  related  to  you,  is 
heartily  concerned  for  you,  and  wishes  you  well. 
Now,  give  me  leave  freely  to  speak  to  you  concern¬ 
ing  the  patriarch  David,  and  let  it  be  no  offence  to 
you,  if  I  tell  you,  that  David  cannot  be  understood 
here  as  speaking  of  himself,  but  of  the  Christ  to 
come.”  David  is  here  called  a  patriarch,  because 


23 


THE  ACTS,  II. 


he  wus  the  father  of  the  royal  family,  and  a  man  of 
great  note  and  eminency  in  his  generation,  and 
whose  name  and  memory  were  justly  very  precious. 
Now  when  we  read  that  psalm  of  his,  we  must  con¬ 
sider, 

1.  That  he  could  not  say  that  of  himself,  for  he 
died,  and  was  buried,  and  his  sepulchre  remained  in 
Jerusalem  till  now,  when  Peter  spake  this,  and  his 
bones  and  ashes  in  it;  nobody  ever  pretended  that 
he  had  risen,  and  therefore  he  could  never  say  of 
himself,  that  he  should  not  see  corruption  ;  for  it 
was  plain  he  did  see  corruption.  St.  Paul  urges 
this,  ch.  13.  35 — 37.  Though  he  was  a  man  after 
God’s  own  heart,  yet  he  went  the  way  of  all  the 
earth,  as  he  saith  himself,  ( 1  Kings  2.  2. )  both  in 
death  and  burial. 

2.  Therefore  certainly  he  spake  it  as  a  prophet, 
with  an  eye  to  the  Messiah,  whose  sufferings  the  pro¬ 
phets  testified  beforehand,  and  with  them  the  glory 
that  should  follow ;  so  did  David  in  that  psalm,  as 
Peter  here  plainly  shews. 

(1.)  David  knew  that  the  Messiah  should  descend 
from  his  loins,  ( v .  30.)  that  God  had  sworn  to  him, 
that  of  the  fruit  of  his  loins,  according  to  the  flesh, 
he  would  raise  up  Christ  to  sit  on  his  throne.  He 
promised  him  a  Son,  the  throne  of  whose  kingdom 
should  be  established  for  ever,  2  Sam.  7.  12.  And 
it  is  said,  (Ps.  132.  11.)  God  swore  it  in  truth  unm 
David.  When  our  Lord  Jesus  was  born,  it  was  pro¬ 
mised  that  the  Lord  God  would  give  him  the  throne 
of  his  father  David,  Luke  1.  32.  And  all  Israel 
knew  that  the  Messiah  was  to  be  the  Son  of  David, 
that  is,  that,  according  to  the  flesh,  he  should  be  so 
by  his  human  nature ;  for  otherwise,  according  to 
the  spirit,  and  by  his  divine  nature,  he  was  to  be 
David’s  Lord,  not  his  son.  God  having  sworn  to 
David,  that  the  Messiah,  promised  to  his  fathers, 
should  be  his  Son  and  Successor,  the  Fruit  of  his 
loins,  and  Heir  to  his  throne,  he  kept  this  in  view, 
in  penning  his  psalms. 

(2.)  Christ  being  the  Fruit  of  his  loins,  and,  con¬ 
sequently,  in  his  loins  when  he  penned  that  psalm, 
(as  Levi  is  said  to  be  in  Abraham’s  loins,  when  he 
paid  tithes  to  Melchizedek,)  if  what  he  says,  as  in 
his  own  person,  be  not  applicable  to  himself,  (as  it 
is  plain  that  it  is  not,)  we  must  conclude  it  points  to 
that  Son  of  his  that  was  then  in  his  loins,  in  whom 
his  family  and  kingdom  were  to  have  their  perfec¬ 
tion  and  perpetuity ;  and  therefore,  when  he  says 
that  his  soul  should  not  be  left  in  its  separate  state, 
nor  his  flesh  see  corruption,  without  doubt  he  must 
be  understood  to  speak  of  the  resurrection  of  Christ, 
v.  31.  And  as  Christ  died,  so  he  rose  again,  according 
to  the  scriptures  ;  and  that  he  did  so,  we  are  witnesses. 

3.  Here  is  a  glance  at  his  ascension  too.  As  Da¬ 
vid  did  not  rise  from  the  dead,  so  neither  did  he  as¬ 
cend  into  the  heavens,  bodily,  as  Christ  did,  v.  34. 
And  further,  to  prove  that  when  he  spake  of  the 
resurrection,  he  meant  it  of  Christ,  he  observes  that 
when  in  another  psalm  he  speaks  of  the  next  step 
of  his  exaltation,  he  plainly  shews  that  he  spake  of 
another  person,  and  such  another  as  was  his  Lord  ; 
(Ps.  110.  1.)  The  Lord  said  unto  my  Lord,  when 
he  had  raised  him  from  the  dead,  “  Sit  thou  at  my 
right  hand,  in  the  highest  dignity  and  dominion 
there ;  be  thou  intrusted  with  the  administration  of 
the  kingdom  both  of  providence  and  grace  ;  sit  there 
as  King  until  I  make  thy  foes  either  thv  friends  or 
thy  footstool,” v.  35.  Christ  rose  from  the  grave  to 
rise  higher,  and  therefore  it  must  be  of  his  resur¬ 
rection  that  David  spake,  and  not  his  own,  in  the 
16th  Psalm  ;  for  there  was  no  occasion  for  him  to 
rise  out  of  his  grave,  who  was  not  to  ascend  to  heaven. 

We  now  come  to  the  application  of  this  discourse 
concerning  the  death,  resurrection,  and  ascension  of 
Christ. 

1.)  This  explains  the  meaning  of  the  present 


wonderful  effusion  of  the  Spirit  in  these  extraordi¬ 
nary  gifts.  Some  ot  the  people  had  asked,  (v.  12.) 

:  What  meaneth  this?  I  will  tell  you  the  meaning  of 
it,  says  Peter.  This  Jesus  being  exalted  to  the  right 
hand  of  God ;  so  some  read  it,  to  sit  there  ;  exalted 
by  the  right  hand  of  God ;  so  we  read  it,  by  his 
power  and  authority,  it  comes  all  to  one  ;  and  having 
received  of  the  Father,  to  whom  he  is  ascended,  the 
promise  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  he  hath  given  what  he 
received,  (Ps.  68.  18.)  and  hath  shed  forth  this  which 
you  now  see  and  hear ;  for  the  Holy  Ghost  was  to 
be  given  when  Jesus  was  glorified,  and  not  before, 
John  7.  39.  You  see  and  hear  us  speak  with  tongues 
that  we  never  learned ;  probably,  there  was  an  ob¬ 
servable  change  in  the  air  of  their  countenances, 
which  they  saw,  as  well  as  heard  the  change  of 
their  voice  and  language ;  now  this  is  from  the 
Holy  Ghost,  whose  coming  is  an  evidence  that  Je¬ 
sus  is  exalted,  and  he  has  received  this  gift  from  the 
Father,  to  confer  it  upon  the  church,  which  plainly 
speaks  him  to  be  the  Mediator  or  middle  Person  be¬ 
tween  God  and  the  church.  The  gift  of  the  Holy 
Ghost  was,  [1.]  A  performance  of  divine  promises 
already  made  ;  here  it  is  called  the  promise  of  the 
Holy  Ghost ;  many  exceeding  great  and  precious 
promises  the  divine  power  has  given  us,  but  this  is 
the  promise,  by  way  of  eminency,  as  that  of  the 
Messiah  had  been,  and  this  is  the  promise  that  in¬ 
cludes  all  the  rest;  hence  God’s  giving  the  Holy 
Spirit  to  them  that  ask  him,  (Luke  11.  13.)  is  his 
giving  them  all  good  things.  Matt.  7.  11.  Christ 
received  the  promise  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  that  is,  the 
promised  gift  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  has  given  it 
to  us  ;  for  all  the  promises  are  yea  and  amen  in  him. 
[2.]  It  was  a  pledge  of  all  divine  favours  further  in¬ 
tended  ;  what  you  now  see  and  hear,  is  but  an  ear¬ 
nest  of  greater  things. 

(2.)  This  proves  what  you  are  all  bound  to  be¬ 
lieve,  that  Christ  Jesus  is  the  true  Messiah  and  Sa¬ 
viour  of  the  world  ;  this  he  closes  his  sermon  with, 
as  the  conclusion  of  the  whole  matter,  the  quod  erat 
demonstrandum — the  truth  to  be  demonstrated  ,  ( v . 
36.)  Therefore  let  all  the  house  of  Israel  know  as¬ 
suredly,  tliat  this  truth  has  now  received  its  full  con¬ 
firmation,  and  we  our  full  commission  to  publish  it, 
That  God  has  made  that  same  Jesus,  whom  ye  have 
crucified,  both  Lord  and  Christ.  They  were  charged 
to  tell  no  man  that  he  was  Jesus  the  Christ,  till  after 
his  resurrection;  (Matth.  16.  20. — 17.  9.)  but  now 
it  must  be  proclaimed  on  the  house-tops,  to  all  the 
house  of  Israel ;  he  that  has  ears  to  hear,  let  him 
hear  it ;  it  is  not  proposed  as  probable,  but  deposed 
as  certain  ;  Let  them  know  it  assuredly,  and  know 
that  it  is  their  duty  to  receive  it  as  a  faithful  saying, 
[1.]  That  God  has  glorified  him  whom  they  have 
crucified.  This  aggravates  their  wickedness,  that 
they  crucified  one  whom  God  designed  to  glorify  ; 
and  put  him  to  death  as  a  deceiver,  who  had  given 
such  pregnant  proofs  of  his  divine  mission  :  and  it 
magnifies  the  wisdom  and  power  of  God,  that  though 
they  crucified  him,  and  thought  thereby  to  have  put 
him  under  an  indelible  mark  of  infamy,  yet  God  had 
glorified  him,  and  the  indignities  thev  had  done  him, 
served  as  a  foil  to  his  lustre.  [2.  ]  That  he  has  glo¬ 
rified  him  to  that  degree,  as  to  make  him  both  Lord 
and  Christ :  these  signify  the  same  ;  he  is  Lord  of 
all,  and  he  is  not  a  usurper,  but  is  Christ  anointed 
to  be  so.  He  is  one  Lord  to  the  Gentiles,  who  had 
had  lords  many ;  and  to  the  Jews  he  is  Messiah,  which 
j  includes  all  his  offices.  He  is  the  King  Messiah,  as 
I  the  Chaldee-paraphrast  calls  him  ;  or  as  the  angel 
to  Daniel,  Messiah  the  Prince,  Dan.  9.  25.  This  is 
the  great  truth  of  the  gospel  which  we  are  to  be¬ 
lieve,  that  that  same  Jesus,  the  very  same  that  was 
crucified  at  Jerusalem,  is  he  to  whom  we  owe  alle- 
j  giance,  and  from  whom  we  are  to  expect  protec- 
!  tion,  as  Lord  and  Christ. 


THE  ACTS,  II. 


37.  Now  when  they  heard  this  they 
were  pricked  in  their  heart,  and  said  unto 
Peter  and  to  the  rest  of  the  apostles,  Men 
and  brethren,  what  shall  we  do  ?  38.  Then 
Peter  said  unto  them,  Repent,  and  be  bap¬ 
tized  every  one  of  you  in  the  name  of  Je¬ 
sus  Christ  for  the  remission  of  sins,  and  ye 
shall  receive  the  gift  of  the  Holy  Ghost. 
39.  For  the  promise  is  unto  you,  and  to 
your  children,  and  to  all  that  are  afar  off, 
even  as  many  as  the  Lord  our  God  shall 
call.  40.  And  with  many  other  words  did 
he  testify  and  exhort,  saying,  Save  your¬ 
selves  from  this  untoward  generation.  41. 
Then  they  that  gladly  received  his  word 
were  baptized:  and  the  same  day  there 
were  added  unto  them  about  three  thousand 
souls. 

We  have  seen  the  wonderful  effect  of  the flouring 
^iit  of  (he  Spirit,  in  its  influence  upon  the  preachers 
of  the  gospel.  Peter,  in  all  his  life,  never  spake  at 
the  rate  that  he  had  done  now,  with  such  fulness, 
perspicuity,  and  power.  We  are  now  to  see  ano¬ 
ther  blessed  fruit  of  the  flouring  out  of  the  Spirit, 
in  its  influence  upon  the  hearers  of  the  gospel ;  from 
the  first  delivery  of  that  divine  message,  it  appeared 
that  there  was  a  divine  power  going  along  with  it, 
and  it  was  mighty,  through  God,  to  do  wonders; 
thousands  were  immediately  brought  by  it  to  the 
obedience  of  faith  ;  it  was  the  rod  of  God’s  strength 
sent  out  "of  Zion,  Ps.  110.  2,  3.  We  have  here  the 
first  fruits  of  that  vast  harvest  of  souls,  which  by  it 
were  gathered  into  Jesus  Christ.  Come  and  see,  in 
these  verses,  the  exalted  Redeemer  riding  forth,  in 
these  chariots  of  salvation,  conquering,  and  to  con¬ 
quer,  Rev.  6.  2. 

In  these  verses  we  find  the  word  of  God,  the 
means  of  beginning  and  carrying  on  a  good  work  of 
grace  in  the  hearts  of  many,  the  Spirit  of  the  Lord 
working  by  it.  Let  us  see 'the  method  of  it. 

I.  They  were  startled,  and  convinced,  and  put 
upon  a  serious  inquiry,  v.  37.  When  they  heard,  or 
having  heard,  having  patiently  heard  Peter  out,  and 
not  given  him  the  interruption  they  had  been  used 
to  give  to  Christ  in  his  discourses,  (this  was  one 
good  point  gained,  that  they  were  become  attentive 
to  the  word,)  they  were  pricked  to  the  heart,  or  in 
the  heart,  and,  under  a  deep  concern  and  perplexity, 
applied  themselves  to  the  preacher  with  this  ques¬ 
tion,  What  shall  we  do?  It  was  very  strange  that 
such  impressions  should  be  made  upon  such  hard 
hearts  all  of  a  sudden  !  They  were  Jews,  bred  up 
m  the  opinion  of  the  sufficiency  of  their  religion  to 
save  them,  had  lately  seen  this  Jesus  crucified  in 
weakness  and  disgrace,  and  were  told  by  their  ru¬ 
lers  that  he  was  a  deceiver;  Peter  had  charged 
them  with  having  a  hand,  a  wicked  hand,  in  his 
death,  which  was  likely  to  have'exasperated  them 
against  him  ;  yet,  when  they  heard  this  plain  scrip- 
tuml  sermon,  they  were  much  affected  with  it. 

(h)  It  put  them  in  pain ;  they  were  pricked  in 
their  hearts-  We  read  of  those  that  were  cut  to  the 
heart  with  indignation  at  the  preacher,  ( ch .  7.  54. ) 
but  these  were  pricked  to  the  heart  with  indigna¬ 
tion  at  themselves  for  having  been  accessary  to  the 
death  of  Christ.  Peter,  charging  it  upon  them, 
awakened  their  consciences,  touched  them  to  the 
quick,  and  the  reflection  they  now  made  upon  it,  was 
as  a  sword  in  their  bones,  it  pierced  them  as  they 
had  pierced  Christ.  Note,  Sinners,  when  their  eyes 
are  opened,  cannot  but  be  pricked  to  the  heart  for 


]  sin,  cannot  but  experience  an  inward  uneasiness; 
this  is  having  the  heart  rent,  (Joel  2.  13.)  a  broken 
and  contrite  heart,  Ps.  51.  17.  Those  that  are  truly 
sorry  for  their  sins,  and  ashamedvoT them,  and  afraid 
oT  tne  consequences  of  them,  are  pricked  to  the 
heart.  A  prick  in  the  heart  is  mortal,  and  under 
those  commotions  (says  Paul)  I  died,  Rom.  7.  9. 
“All  my  good  opinion  of  myself  and  confidence  in 
myself  failed  me.”  j 

(2^  It  put  them  upon  inquiry.  Out  of  the  abund¬ 
ance  of  the  heart,  thus  pricked,  the  mouth  spake. 
Observe, 

(1.)  To  whom  thus  they  addressed  themselves; 
to  Peter  and  to  the  rest  of  the  apostles,  some  to  one 
and  some  to  another,  to  them  they  opened  their 
case ;  by  them  they  had  been  convinced,  and  there¬ 
fore  by  them  they  expect  to  be  counselled  and  com¬ 
forted.  They  do  not  appeal  from  them  to  the  Scribes 
and  Pharisees,  to  justify  them  against  the  apostles’ 
charge,  but  apply  to  them,  as  owning  the  charge, 
and  referring  the  case  to  them.  They  call  them 
men^-ax\(\  bre±hren,  as  Peter  had  called  them  ;  (v. 
29.)  it  is  a  style  of  friendship  and  love,  rather  than 
a  title  of  honour ;  “  You  are  men,  look  upon  us  with 
humanity ;  you  are  brethren,  look  upon  us  with  bro¬ 
therly  love.”  Note,  Ministers  are  spiritual  phy¬ 
sicians,  they  should  be  advised  with  by  those  whose 
consciences  are  wounded ;  and  it  is  good  for  people 
to  be  free  and  familiar  with  those  ministers,  as  men 
and  their  brethren,  who  deal  for  their  souls  as  for 
their  own. 

(2.)  What  the  address  is  ;  What  shall  we  do  ? 

[1.]  They  speak  as  men  at  a  plunge,  that  did  not 
know  what  to  do ;  in  a  perfect  surprise ;  “  Is  that 
Jesus,  whom  we  have  crucified,  both  Lord  and 
Christ?  Then  what  will  become  of  us  who  cruci¬ 
fied  him  ?  We  are  all  undone!”  Note,  No  way. 
of  being  happy,  but  by  seeing  ourselves  miserable. 
When  we  find  ourselves  in  danger  of  being  lost  for 
ever,  there  is  hope  of  our  being  made  for  ever,  and 
not  till  then. 

[2.]  They  speak  as  men  at  a  point,  that  were  re¬ 
solved  to  do  any  thing  they  shall  be  directed  to,  im¬ 
mediately  ;  they  are  not  for  taking  time  to  consider, 
or  for  adjourning  the  prosecution  of  their  convic¬ 
tions  to  a  more  convenient  season,  but  desire  now  to 
be  told  what  they  must  do  to  escape  the  misery  they 
were  liable  to.  Note,  Those  that  are  convinced  of 
sin,  would  gladly  know  the  way  to  peace  and  par¬ 
don,  ch.  9.  6. — i6.  30. 

r  II.  Peter  and  the  apostles  direct  them  in  short 
what  they  must  do,  and  what  in  so  doing  they  might 
expect,  x>.  38,  39.  Sinners  convinced  must  be  en¬ 
couraged  ;  and  that  which  is  broken  must  be  bound 
up;  (Ezek.  34.  16.)  they  must  be  told  that  though 
their  case  is  sad,  it  is  not  desperate,  there  is  hope 
for-them. 

l)  He  here  shews  them  the  course  they  must 
take. 

(1.)  Repent  j  that  is  a  plank  after  shipwreck. 
“Let  tlie  sense  of  this  horrid  guilt  which  you  have 
brought  upon  yourselves  by  putting  Christ  to  death, 
awaken  you  to  a  penitent  reflection  upon  all  your 
other  sins,  as  the  demand  of  some  one  great  debt 
brings  to  light  all  the  debts  of  a  poor  bankrupt,  and 
to  bitter  remorse  and  sorrow  for  them.  ”  This  was 
the  same  duty  that  John  the  Baptist  and  Christ  had 
preached,  and  now  that  the  Spirit  is  poured  out,  it 
is  still  insisted  on;  “  Repent,  repent ;  change  your 
mind,  change  your  way;  admit  an  after-thought.” 

(2.)  Be  baptized  every  one  of  you  in  the  name  of 
Jesus  Christ,  that  is,  “  firmly  believe  the  doctrine  of 
Christ,  and  submit  to  his  grace  and  government ; 
and  make  an  open  solemn  profession  of  this,  and 
come  under  an  engagement  to  abide  by  it,  by  sub¬ 
mitting  to  the  ordinance  of  baptism  ;  be  proselvted 
to  Christ  /nd  to  his  holy  religion,  and  renounce  your 


THE  AC 

infidelity.  ”  They  must  be  baptized  in  the  name  of 
Jesus  Christ.  They  did  believe  in  the  Father  and 
the  Holy  Ghost  sneaking  by  the  prophets  ;  but  they 
must  also  believe  n  the  name  of  Jesus,  that  he  is  the 
Christ,  the  Messias  promised  to  the  F athers ;  “  T ake 
Jesus  for  your  King,  and  by  baptism  swear  allegiance 
to  him  ;  take  Kim  for  your  Prophet,  and  hear  him  ; 
take  him  for  your  Priest,  to  make  atonement  for 
you which  seems  peculiarly  intended  here ;  for 
they  must  be  baptized  in  his  name  for  the  remission 
of  sins  upon  the  score  of  his  righteousness. . 

(3. )  This  is  pressed  upon  each  particular  person, 
every  one  ofysm ;  “Even  those  of  you  that  have 
bemMFTgreatest  sinners,  if  they  repent  and  believe, 
fare  welcome  to'be  baptized;  and  those  that  think 
they  have  been  the  greatest  saints,  have  yet  need  to 
repent,  and  believe,  and  be  baptized.  There  is  grace 

I  enough  in  Christ  for  every  one  of  you,  be  ye  ever  so 
many,  and  grace  suited  to  the  case  of  every  one.  Is¬ 
rael  of  old  were  baptized  unto  Moses  in  the  camp, 
the  whole  body  of  the  Israelites  together,  when  they 
passed  through  the  cloud  and  the  sea,  (1  Cor.  10.  1, 

2. )  for  the  covenant  of  peculiarity  was  national  ;  but 
now  every  one  of  you  distinctly  must  be  baptized  in 
the  name  of  the  Lord  Jesus,  and  transact  for  him- 
sglf  in  this  great  affair.”  See  Col.  1.  28. 

:2?vHe  gives  them  encouragement  to  take  that 

course :  . . 

(1.)  “It  shall  be  for  the  remission  of  sins.  Re¬ 
pent  of  your  sin,  and  it  shall'TTot  be  your  ruin ;  be 
baptized  into  the  faith  of  Christ,  and  in  truth  you 
shall  be  justified,  which  you  could  never  be  by  the 
law  of  Moses.  Aim  at  this,  and  depend  upon  Christ 
for  it,  and  this  you  shall  have.  As  the  cup  of  the 
Lord’s  supper  is  the  New  Testament  in  the  blood  of 
Christ  for  the  remission,  of  sins,  so  baptism  i§  in  the 
name  of  Christ  for  the  remission  of  sins.  Be  washed, 
and  you  shall  be  washed.” 

(2.)  “You  shall  receive  the  gift  of  the  Holy  Ghost 
as  well  as  we;  for  it  is  designed  fora  general  blessing: 
some  of  you  shall  receive  these  external  gifts,  and 
each  of  you,  if  you  be  sincere  in  your  faith  and  re¬ 
pentance,  shall  receive  his  internal  graces  and  com¬ 
forts,  shall  be  sealed  with  the  Holy  Spirit  of  promise.” 
Note,  All  that  receive  the  remission  of  sins,  receive 
the  gift  of  the  Holy  Ghost.  All  that  are  justified, 
are  sanctified. 

(3.)  “  Your  children  shall  still  have,  as  they  have 
had,  an  interest  in  the  covenant,  and  a  title  to  the 
external  seal  of  it.  Come  over  to  Christ,  to  receive 
those  inestimable  benefits ;  for  the  promise  of  the 
remission  of  sins,  and  the  gift  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  is 
to  you  and  to  your  children,”  v.  39.  It  was  very 
express,  (Isa.  44.  3.)  I  will  pour  my  Spirit  upon  thy 
seed.  And,  (Isa.  59.  21.)  My  Spirit  and  my  word 
shall  not  depart  from  thy  seed,  and  thy  seed's  seed. 
When  God  took  Abraham  into  covenant,  he  said, 
I  will  be  a  God  to  thee,  and  to  thy  seed ;  (Gen.  17. 
7.)  and,  accordingly,  every  Israelite  had  his  son  cir¬ 
cumcised  at  eight  days  old.  Now  it  is  proper  for  an 
Israelite,  when  he  is  by  baptism  to  come  into  a  new 
dispensation  of  this  covenant,  to  ask,  “  What  must 
be  done  with  my  children  ?  Must  they  be  thrown 
out,  or  taken  in  with  me?”  “Taken  in,”  (says  Pe¬ 
ter,)  “by  all  means;  for  the  promise,  that  great 
promise,  of  God’s  being  to  you  a  God,  is  as  much 
to  you  and  to  your  children  now  as  ever  it  was.  ” 

(4. )  “Though  the  promise  is  still  extended  to  your 
children  as  it  has  been,  yet  it  is  not,  as  it  has  been, 
confined  to  you  and  them,  but  the  benefit  of  it  is  de¬ 
signed  for  all  that  are  afar  off,”  we  may  add,  and 
\  their  children,  for  the  blessing  of  Abraham  comes 
upon  the  Gentiles,  through  Jesus  Christ,  Gal.  3.  14. 
Th“  promise  had  long  pertained  to  the  Israelites ; 
(Rom.  9.  4.)  but  now  it  is  sent  to  those  that  are  afar 
off,  the  remotest  nations  of  the  Gentiles,  and  every 
one  of  them  too,  all  that  are  afar  off.  To  this  gene- 

Vol.  vi. — D 


;TS,  II.  as 

ral  the  following  limitation  must  refer,  even  as  many 
of  them,  as  many  particular  persons  in  each  nation. 
as  the  Lord  our  God  shall  call  effectually  into  the 
fellowship  of  Jesus  Christ.  Note,  God  can  make 
his  call  to  reach  those  that  are  ever  so  far  off,  and 
none  come  but  whom  he  calls. 

III.  These  directions  are  followed  with  a  needful 
caution ;  (y.  40. )  With  many  other  words  to  the 
same  purport,  did  he  testify  gospel-truths,  and  ex¬ 
hort  to  gospel-  duties  ;  now  that  the  word  began  to 
work  he  followed  it ;  he  had  said  much  in  a  little, 
(y.  38,  39.)  and  that  which,  one  would  think,  in¬ 
cluded  all,  and  yet  he  had  more  to  say.  When  we 
have  heard  those  words  which  have  done  our  souls 
good,  we  cannot  but  wish  to  hear  more,  to  hear  ma¬ 
ny  more  such  words.  Among  other  things  he  said, 
(and  it  should  seem  inculcated  it,)  Save  yourselves 
from  this  untoward  generation.  Be  ye  free  from 
them.  The  unbelieving  Jews  were  an  untoward  ge¬ 
neration,  perverse  and  obstinate,  they  walked  con¬ 
trary  to  God  and  man,  (1  Thess.  2.  15.)  wedded  to 
sin  and  marked  for  ruin.  Now  as  to  them, 

1.  “Give  diligence  to  save  yourselves  from  the 
ruin,  that  you  may  not  be  involved  in  that,  and  may 
escape  all  those  things (as  the  Christians  did ;) 

“  repent ,  and  be  baptized  ;  and  then  you  shall  not 
be  sharers  with  them  in  destruction,  whom  you 
have  been  sharers  with  in  sin.”  O  gather  not  my 
soul  with  sinners. 

2.  “In  order  to  this,  continue  not  with  them  in 
their  sin,  persist  not  with  them  in  infidelity.  Save 
yourselves,  that  is,  separate  yourselves,  distinguish 
yourselves,  from  this  untoward  generation.  Be  not 
rebellious  like  this  rebellious  house ;  partake  not  with 
them  in  their  sins,  that  you  share  not  with  them  in 
their  plagues.”  Note,  To  separate  ourselves  from 
wicked  people,  is  the  only  way  to  save  ourselves 
from  them  ;  though  we  thereby  expose  ourselves  to 
their  rage  and  enmity,  we  really  save  ourselves  from 
them  ;  for  if  we  consider  whither  they  are  hasten¬ 
ing,  we  shall  see  it  is  better  to  have  the  trouble  of 
swimming  against  their  stream  than  the  danger  of 
being  carried  down  their  stream.  Those  that  re¬ 
pent  of  their  sins,  and  give  up  themselves  to  Jesus 
Christ,  must  evidence  their  sincerity  by  breaking 
off  all  intimate  society  with  wicked  people.  De¬ 
part  from  me,  ye  evil  doers,  is  the  language  of  one 
that  determines  to  keep  the  commandments  of  his 
God,  Ps.  119.  115.  We  must  save  ourselves  from 
them  ;  which  denotes  avoiding  them  with  dread  and 
holy  fear,  as  we  would  save  ourselves  from  an  ene¬ 
my’ that  seeks  to  destroy  us,  or  from  a  house  in¬ 
fected  with  the  plague. 

IY.  Here  is  the  happy  success  and  issue  of  this, 
v.  41.  The  Spirit  wrought  with  the  word,  and 
wrought  wonders  by  it.  These  same  persons  that 
had  many  of  them  been  eye  witnesses  of  the  death 
of  Christ,  and  the  prodigies  that  attended  it,  and 
were  not  wrought  upon  by  them,  were  yet  wrought 
upon  by  the  preaching  of  the  word,  for  that  is  it 
that  is  the  power  of  God  unto  salvation. 

1.  They  received  the  word  ;  and  then  onlv  the 
word  does  us  good,  when  we  do  receive  it,  embrace 
it,  and  bid  it  welcome.  They  admitted  the  convic¬ 
tion  of  it,  and  accepted  the  offers  of  it.  - 

2.  Thev  gladly  received  it.  Herod  heard  the 
word  gladlv,  but ’these  gladly  received  it,  were  not 
only  glad  that  they  had  it  to  receive,  but  glad  that 
by  the  grace  of  God  they  were  enabled  to  receive  it, 
though  it  would  be  a  humbling  changing  word  to 
them,  and  would  expose  them  to  the  enmity  of  their 
countrymen. 

3.  They  were  baptized  ;  believing  with  the  heart, 
they  made  confession  with  the  mouth,  and  enroll 
themselves  among  the  disciples  of  Christ  by  m? 
sacred  rite  and  ceremony  which  he  had  instuuted. 
And  though  Peter  had  said,  “  Be  baptized  in  the 


26 


THE  ACTS,  Ii. 


name  of  the  Lord  Jesus,”  (because  the  doctrine  of 
Christ  was  the  present  tnith,)  yet  we  have  reason 
to  think  that,  in  baptizing  them,  the  whole  form 
Christ  prescribed  was  used  in  the  name  of  the  rather, 
the  Son,  and  the  Holy  Ghost .  Note,  Those  that 
receive  the  Christian  covenant,  ought  to  receive  the 
Christian  baptism. 

4.  Hereby  there  were  added  to  the  disciples  to 
the  number  of  about  three  thousand  souls  that  same 
day.  All  those  that  had  received  the  Holy  Ghost, 
had  their  tongues  at  work  to  preach,  and  their  hands 
at  work  to  baptize  ;  for  it  was  time  to  be  busy,  when 
such  a  harvest  was  to  be  gathered  in.  The  con¬ 
version  of  these  three  thousand  with  these  woids, 
was  a  greater  work  than  the  feeding  of  four  or 
five  thousand  with  a  few  loaves.  Now  Israel  began 
to  multiply  after  the  death  of  our  Joseph.  They 
are  said  to  be  three  thousand  souls,  which  word  is 
generally  used  for  persons  when  women  and  chil¬ 
dren  are  included  with  men,  as  Gen.  44.  21.  Give 
me  the  souls,  (Gen.  14.  27.)  seventy  souls,  which 
intimates  that  those  that  were  here  baptized, .  were 
not  so  many  men,  but  so  many  heads  of  families,  as 
with  their' children  and  servants  baptized,  might 
make  up  three  thousand  souls.  These  were  added 
to  them.  Note,  They  who  are  joined  to  Christ,  are 
added  to  the  disciples  of  Christ,  and  join  with  them. 
When  we  take  God  for  our  God,  we  must  take  his 
people  to  be  our  people. 

42.  And  they  continued  steadfastly  in 
the  apostles’  doctrine  and  fellowship,  and 
in  breaking  of  bread,  and  in  prayers.  43. 
And  fear  came  upon  every  soul :  and  many 
wonders  and  signs  were  done  by  the  apos¬ 
tles.  44.  And  all  that  believed  were  to¬ 
gether,  and  had  all  things  common ;  45. 

And  sold  their  possessions  and  goods,  and 
parted  them  to  all  men,  as  every  man  had 
need.  46.  And  they,  continuing  daily  with 
one  accord  in  the  temple,  and  breaking 
bread  from  house  to  house,  did  eat  their 
meat  with  gladness  and  singleness  of  heart, 
47.  Praising  God,  and  having  favour  with 
all  the  people.  And  the  Lord  added  to 
the  church  daily  such  as  should  be  saved. 

We  often  speak  of  the  primitive  church,  and  ap¬ 
peal  to  it,  and  to  the  history  of  it ;  in  these  verses 
we  have  the  history  of  the  truly  primitive  church, 
of  the  first  days  of  it,  its  state  of  infancy  indeed,  but, 
like  that,  the  state  of  its.  greatest  innocence. 

I.  They  kept  close  to  holy  ordinances,  and  abound¬ 
ed  in  all  instances  of  piety  and  devotion,  for  Christi¬ 
anity,  admitted  in  the  power  of  it,  will  dispose  the 
soul  to  communion  with  God  in  all  those  ways  where¬ 
in  he  has  appointed  us  to  meet  him,  and  promised 
to  meet  us. 

1.  They  were  diligent  and  constant  in  their  at¬ 
tendance  upon  the  preaching  of  the  word.  They 
continued  in  the  apostles’  doctrine,  and  never  dis¬ 
owned  or  deserted  it  ;  or,  as  it  may  be  read,  they 
continued  constant  to  the  apostles’  teaching  orinstruc- 
tions  ;  by  baptism  they  were  discipled  to  be  taught, 
and  they  were  willing  to  be  taught.  Note,  I  hose 
who  have  given  up  their  names  to  Christ,  must  make 
conscience  of  hearing  his  word  ;  for  thereby  we  give 
honour  to  him,  and  build  up  ourselves  in  our  most 
holy  faith. 

2.  They  kept  up  the  communion  of  saints.  They 
continued  in  fellowship,  (v.  42.)  and  continued  daily 
with  one  accord  in  the  temple,  v.  46.  They  not 
only  had  a  mutual  affection  to  each  other,  but  a 


great  deal  of  mutual  conversation  with  each  other ; 
they  were  much  together.  When  they  withdrew 
from  the  untoward  generation,  they  did  not  turn 
hermits,  but  were  very  intimate  with  one  another, 
and  took  all  occasions  to  meet ;  wherever  you  saw 
one  disciple,  you  should  see  more,  like  birds  of  a 
feather.  See  how  these  Christians  love  one  another. 
They  were  concerned  for  one  another,  sympathized 
with  one  another,  and  heartily  espoused  one  ano¬ 
ther’s  interests.  They  had  fellowship  with  one 
another  in  religious  worship  ;  they  met  in  the  tem¬ 
ple  ;  there  was  their  rendezvous  ;  for  joint-fellow¬ 
ship  with  God  is  the  best  fellowship  we  can  have 
with  one  another,  1  John  1.  3.  Observe,  (1.)  They 
were  daily  in  the  temple,  not  only  on  the  days  of 
the  sabbaths  and  solemn  feasts,  but  on  other  days, 
every  day.  Worshipping  God  is  to  be  our  daily 
work,  and  where  there  is  opportunity,  the  oftener 
it  is  done  publicly  the  better.  God  loves  the  gates 
of  Zion,  and  so  must  we.  (2.)  They  were  with  one 
accord ;  not  only  no  discord  or  strife,  but  a  great 
deal  of  holy  love  among  them  ;  and  they  heartily 
joined  in  their  public  services.  Though  they  met 
with  the  Jews  in  the  courts  of  the  temple,  yet  the 
Christians  kept  together  by  themselves,  and  were 
unanimous  in  their  separate  devotions. 

3.  They  frequently  joined  in  the  ordinance  of  the 
Lord’s  supper ;  they  continued  in  breaking  of  bread, 
in  celebrating  that  memorial  of  their  Master’s  death, 
as  those  that  were  not  ashamed  to  own  their  relation 
to,  and  their  dependence  upon,  Christ  and  him  cru¬ 
cified.  They  could  not  forget  the  death  of  Christ, 
yet  they  kept  up  this  memorial  of  it,  and  made  it 
their  constant  practice,  because  it  was  an  institution 
of  Christ,  to  be  transmitted  to  the  succeeding  ages 
of  the  church.  They  broke  bread  from  house  to 
house  ;  x.a.r  o/xov — house  by  house  ;  they  did  not 
think  fit  to  celebrate  the  eucharist  in  the  temple,  for 
that*  was  peculiar  to  the  Christian  institutes,  and 
therefore  they  administered  that  ordinance  in  pri¬ 
vate  houses,  choosing  such  houses  of  the  converted 
Christians  as  were  convenient,  to  which  the  neigh¬ 
bours  resorted  :  and  they  went  from  one  to  another 
of  these  little  synagogues  or  domestic  chapels,  houses 
that  had  churches  in  them,  and  there  celebrated 
the  eucharist  with  those  that  usually  met  there  to 
worship  God. 

4.  They  continued  in  prayer.  After  the  Spirit 
was  poured  out,  as  well  as  before,  while  they  were 
waiting  for  him,  they  continued  instant  in  prayer  ; 
for  prayer  will  never  be  superseded  till  it  comes  to 
be  swailowed  up  in  everlasting  praise.  Breaking 
of  bread  comes  in  between  the  word  and  prayer, 
for  it  has  reference  to  both,  and  is  a  help  to  both. 
The  Lord’s  supper  is  a  sermon  to  the  eye,  and  a 
confirmation  of  God’s  word  to  us  ;  and  it  is  an  en¬ 
couragement  to  our  prayers,  and  a  solemn  expres¬ 
sion  of  the  ascent  of  our  souls  to  God. 

5.  They  abounded  in  thanksgiving  ;  were  con¬ 
tinually  praising  God,  v.  47.  That  should  have  a 
part  in  every  prayer,  and  not  be  crowded  into  a 
corner.  They  that  have  received  the  gift  of  the 
Holy  Ghost,  will  be  much  in  praise. 

II.  They  were  loving  one  to  another,  and  very 
kind  ;  their  charity  was  as  eminent  as  their  piety, 
and  their  joining  together  in  holy  ordinances  knit 
their  hearts  to  each  other,  and  very  much  endeared 
them  to  one  another. 

1.  They  had  frequent  meetings  for  Christian  con¬ 
verse  ;  (v.  44.)  All  that  believed,  were  together; 
not  all  those  thousands  in  one  place  ;  (that  was  im¬ 
practicable  ;)  but,  as  Dr.  Lightfoot  explains  it,  they 
kept  together  in  several  companies  or  congregations, 
according  as  their  languages,  nations,  or  other  re 
ferencesj  brought  them  and  kept  them  together. 
And  thus  joining  together,  because  it  was  apart  from 
those  that  believed  not,  and  because  it  was  in  the 


27 


THE  ACTS,  II. 


same  profession  and  practice  of  the  duties  of  religion, 
they  are  said  to  be  together,  Wi  to  a£]o.  They  as¬ 
sociated  together,  and  so  both  expressed  and  in¬ 
creased  their  mutual  love. 

2.  They  had  all  things  common  :  perhaps  they 
had  common  tables,  (as  the  Spartans  of  old,)  for  fa¬ 
miliarity,  temperance,  and  freedom  of  conversation  ; 
they  ate  together,  that  they  who  had  much  might 
have  the  less,  and  so  be  kept  from  the  temptations 
of  abundance  ;  and  they  who  had  little  might  have 
the  more,  and  so  be  kept  from  the  temptations  of 
want  and  poverty.  Or,  there  was  such  a  concern 
for  one  ahother,  and  such  a  readiness  to  help  one 
another,  as  there  was  occasion,  that  it  might  be  said, 
They  had  all  things  common,  according  to  the  law 
of  friendship,  one  wanted  not  what  another  had ;  for 
he  might  have  it  for  the  asking. 

3.  They  were  very  cheerful,  and  very  generous 
in  the  use  of  what  they  had.  Beside  the  religion 
that  was  in  their  sacred  feasts,  (their  breaking  bread 
from  house  to  house,)  a  great  deal  of  it  appeared  in 
their  common  meals  ;  they  did  eat  their  meat  with 
gladness  and  singleness  of  heart.  They  brought  the 
comforts  of  God’s  table  along  with  them  to  their 
own,  which  had  two  good  effects  upon  them  :  (1.) 
It  made  them  very  pleasant,  and  enlarged  their 
hearts  in  holy  joy  ;  they  did  eat  their  bread  with 
joy,  and  drank  their  wine  with  a  merry  heart,  as 
knowing  that  God  now  accented  their  works.  None 
have  such  cause  to  be  cheerful  as  good  Christians 
have  ;  it  is  pity  but  that  they  should  always  have 
hearts  to  be  so.  (2.)  It  made  them  very  liberal  to 
their  poor  brethren,  and  enlarged  their  hearts  in 
charity.  They  did  eat  their  meat  with  singleness  of 
heart,  h  d^iAornh  h.z^Iz( — with  liberality  of  heart ;  so 
some  ;  they  did  not  eat  their  morsels  alone,  but  bid 
the  poor  welcome  to  their  table,  not  grudgingly,  but 
with  all  the  hearty  freedom  imaginable.  Note,  It 
becomes  Christians  to  be  open-hearted  and  open- 
handed,  and  in  every  good  work  to  sow  plentifully, 
as  those  on  whom  God  hath  sowed  plentifully,  and 
who  hope  to  reap  so. 

4.  They  raised  a  fund  for  charity  ;  ( [v .  45.)  They 
sold  their  possessions  and  goods  ;  some  sold  their 
lands  and  houses,  others  their  stocks  and  the  furni¬ 
ture  of  their  houses,  and  parted  the  money  to  their 
brethren,  as  every  man  had  need.  This  was  to  de¬ 
stroy,  not  property,  (as  Mr.  Baxter  says,)  but  self¬ 
ishness.  Herein,  probably,  they  had  an  eye  to  the 
command  which  Christ  gave  to  the  rich  man,  as  a 
test  of  his  sincerity,  Sell  that  thou  hast,  and  give  to 
the  poor.  Not  that  this  was  intended  for  an  exam¬ 
ple  to  be  a  constant  binding  rule,  as  if  all  Christians 
in  all  places  and  ages  were  bound  to  sell  their  estates, 
and  give  away  the  money  in  charity.  For  St.  Paul’s 
epistles,  after  this,  often  speak  of  the  distinction  of 
rich  and  poor,  and  Christ  hath  said,  that  the  poor  we 
have  always  with  us,  and  shall  have,  and  the  rich 
must  be  always  doing  them  good  out  of  the  rents, 
issues,  and  profits,  of  their  estates,  which  they  dis¬ 
able  themselves  to  do,  if  they  sell  them,  and  give 
all  away  at  once.  But  here  the  case  was  extraor¬ 
dinary.  (1.)  They  were  under  no  obligation  of  a 
divine  command  to  do  this,  as  appears  by  what  Peter 
said  to  Ananias  ;  (ch.  5.  4. )  Was  it  not  in  thine  own 
power  ?  But  it  was  a  very  commendable  instance  of 
their  raisedness  above  the  world,  their  contempt  of 
it,  their  assurance  of  another  world,  their  love  to 
their  brethren,  their  compassion  to  the  poor,  and 
their  great  zeal  for  the  encouraging  of  Christianity, 
and  the  nursing  of  it  in  its  infancy.  The  apostles 
left  all  to  follow  Christ,  and  were  to  give  themselves 
wholly  to  the  word  and  prayer,  and  something  must 
be  done  for  their  maintenance  ;  so  that  this  extraor¬ 
dinary  liberality  was  like  that  of  Israel  in  the  wil- 
erness  toward  the  bulding  of  the  tabernacle,  which 
needed  to  be  restrained,  Exod.  36.  5,  6.  Our  rule 


is,  to  give  according  as  God  hath  blessed  us  ;  yet  in 
such  an  extraordinary  case  as  this,  those  are  to  be 
praised,  who  give  beyond  their  power,  2  Cor.  S.  3. 
(2.)  They  were  Jews  that  did  this,  and  they  who 
believed  Christ,  must  believe  that  the  Jewish  nation 
should  shortly  be  destroyed,  and  an  end  put  to  the 
possession  of  estates  and  goods  in  it,  and,  in  the  be¬ 
lief  of  that,  they  sold  them  for  the  present  service 
of  Christ  and  his  church. 

III.  God  owned  them,  and  gave  them  signal  to¬ 
kens  of  his  presence  with  them;  (v.  43.)  Many 
wonders  and  signs  were  done  by  the  apostles  of  divers 
sorts,  which  confirmed  their  doctrine,  and  incontest¬ 
ably  proved  that  it  was  from  God.  They  that  could 
work  miracles,  could  have  maintained  themselves 
and  the  poor  that  w.ere  among  them  miraculously, 
as  Christ  fed  thousands  with  a  little  food ;  but  it  was 
as  much  for  the  glory  of  God  that  it  should  be  done 
by  a  miracle  of  grace  (inclining  people  to  sell  their 
estates  to  do  it)  as  if  it  had  been  done  by  a  miracle 
in  nature. 

But  the  Lord’s  giving  them  power  to  work  mira¬ 
cles,  was  not  all  he  did  for  them  ;  he  added  to  the 
church  daily.  The  word  in  their  mouths  did  won¬ 
ders,  and  God  blessed  their  endeavours  for  the  in¬ 
crease  of  the  number  of  believers.  Note,  It  is 
God’s  work  to  add  souls  to  the  church  ;  and  it  is  a 
great  comfort  both  to  ministers  and  Christians  to 
see  it. 

IV.  The  people  were  influenced  by  it ;  they  that 
were  without,  the  standers  by,  that  were  specta¬ 
tors. 

1.  They  feared  them,  and  had  a  veneration  for 
them  ;  ( v .  43.)  Fear  came  upon  every  soul,  that  is, 
upon  very  many  who  saw  the  wonders  and  signs  done 
by  the  apostles,  and  were  afraid  lest  their  not  being 
respected  as  they  should  be  would  bring  desolation 
upon  their  nation.  The  common  people  stoc  d  in 
awe  of  them,  as  Herod  feared  John.  Though  they 
had  nothing  of  external  pomp  to  command  external 
respect,  as  the  Scribes’  long  robes  gained  them  the 
greetings  in  the  market-places,  yet  they  had  abund¬ 
ance  of  spiritual  gifts  that  were  truly  honourable, 
which  possessed  men  with  an  inward  reverence  for 
them.  Fear  came  upon  every  soul ;  the  souls  of 
people  were  strangely  influenced  by  their  awful 
preaching  and  living. 

2.  They  favoured  them.  Though  we  have  reason 
to  think  there  were  those  that  despised  them  and 
hated  them,  (we  are  sure  the  Pharisees  and  chief 
priests  did,)  yet  far  the  greater  part  of  the  common 
people  had  a  kindness  for  them — they  had  favour 
with  all  the  people.  Christ  was  so  violently  run 
upon,  and  run  down,  by  a packed  mob,  which  cried. 
Crucify  him,  crucify  him  ;  that  one  would  think  his 
doctrine  and  followers  were  never  likely  to  have  an 
interest  in  the  common  people  any  more.  And  yet 
here  we  find  them  in  favour  with  them  all ;  "by 
which  it  appears  that  their  prosecuting  of  Christ, 
was  a  sort  of  a  force  put  upon  them  by  the  artifices 
of  the  priests  ;  now  they  returned  to  their  wits,  to 
their  right  mind.  Note,  Undissembled  piety  and 
charity  will  command  respect  ;  and  cheerfulness  in 
serving  God  will  recommend  religion  to  those  that 
are  without.  Some  read  it,  They  had  charity  to  all 
the  people — s^,ov7sc  orgo?  'ixov  tcii  Azov  ;  they  did 
not  confine  their  charity  to  those  of  their  own  com¬ 
munity,  but  it  was  catholic  and  extensive  ;  and  this 
recommended  them  very  much. 

3.  They  fell  over  to  them.  Some  or  other  were 
daily  coming  in,  though  not  so  many  as  the  first  day ; 
and  they  were  such  as  should  be  saved.  Note, 
Those  that  God  has  designed  for  eternal  salvation, 
shall  one  time  or  other  be  effectually  brought  to 
Christ ;  and  those  that  are  brought  to  Christ,  are 
added  to  the  church  in  a  holy  covenant  by  baptism, 
and  in  holy  communion  by  other  ordinances. 


28 


THE  ACTS,  III. 


CHAP.  III. 

v  this  chapter,  we  have  a  miracle  and  a  sermon  :  the  mira¬ 
cle  wrought  to  make  way  for  the  sermon,  to  confirm  the 
doctrine  that  was  to  be  preached,  and  to  make  way  for  it 
into  the  minds  of  the  people  ;  and  then  the  sermon  to  ex¬ 
plain  the  miracle,  and  to  sow  the  ground  which  by  it  was 
broken  up.  I.  The  miracle  was  the  healing  of  a  man  that 
was  lame  from  his  birth,  with  a  word  speaking,  (v.  1 . .  8.) 
and  the  impression  which  this  made  upon  the  people,  v.  9 . . 
11.  II.  The  scope  of  the  sermon  which  was  preached  here¬ 
upon,  was,  to  bring  people  to  Christ,  to  repent  of  their  sin 
in  crucifying  him;  (v.  12  ..  19.)  to  believe  in  him  now 
that  lie  was  glorified,  and  to  comply  with  the  Father’s  de¬ 
sign  in  glorifying  him,  v.  20  . .  26.  The  former  part  of 
the  discourse  opens  the  wound,  the  latter  applies  the  re¬ 
medy. 

1.  Peter  and  John  went  up  toge- 

ther  into  the  temple  at  the  hour  of 
prayer,  being  the  ninth  hour.  2.  And  a  cer¬ 
tain  man  lame  from  his  mother’s  womb 
was  carried,  whom  they  laid  daily  at  the 
gate  of  the  temple  which  is  called  Beauti¬ 
ful,  to  ask  alms  of  them  that  entered  into 
the  temple;  3.  Who,  seeing  Peter  and 
John  about  to  go  into  the  temple,  asked  an 
alms.  4.  And  Peter,  fastening  his  eyes 
upon  him,  with  John,  said,  Look  on  us.  5. 
And  he  gave  heed  unto  them,  expecting  to 
receive  something  of  them.  6.  Then  Peter 
said,  Silver  and  gold  have  I  none ;  but  such 
as  I  have  give  I  thee.  In  the  name  of  Jesus 
Christ  of  Nazareth  rise  up  and  walk.  7. 
And  he  took  him  by  the  right  hand,  and 
lifted  him  up :  and  immediately  his  feet 
and  ankle-bones  received  strength.  8.  And 
he,  leaping  up,  stood,  and  walked,  and  en¬ 
tered  with  them  into  the  temple,  walking, 
and  leaping,  and  praising  God.  9.  And  all 
the  people  saw  him  walking  and  praising 
God.  1 0.  And  they  knew  that  it  was  he 
which  sat  for  aims  at  the  Beautiful  gate  of 
the  temple  :  and  they  were  filled  with  won¬ 
der  and  amazement  at  that  which  had  hap¬ 
pened  unto  him.  1 1 .  And  as  the  lame  man 
which  was  healed  held  Peter  and  John, 
all  the  people  ran  together  unto  them  in 
the  porch  that  is  called  Solomon’s,  greatly 
wondering. 

We  were  told  in  general,  (ch.  2.  43.)  that  many 
signs  and  wonders  were  done  by  the  apostles,  which 
are  not  written  in  this  book  ;  but  here  we  have  one 
given  us  for  an  instance.  As  they  wrought  miracles, 
not  upon  everv  body,  as  every  body  had  occasion  for 
them,  but  as  the  Holy  Spirit  gave  direction,  so  as  to 
answer  the  end  of  their  commission  ;  so  all  the  mi¬ 
racles  they  did  work,  are  not  written  in  this  book, 
but  such  only  are  recorded  as  the  Holy  Ghost 
thought  fit  to  answer  the  end  of  this  sacred  history. 

I.  The  persons  by  whose  ministry  this  miracle 
was  wrought,  were,  Peter  and  John,  two  principal 
men  among  the  apostles ;  they  were  so  in  Christ’s 
time,  one  speaker  of  the  house  for  the  most  part, 
the  other  favourite  of  the  Master ;  and  they  continue 
so.  When,  upon  the  conversion  of  thousands,  the 
church  was  divided  into  several  societies,  perhaps 
Peter  and  John  presided  in  that  which  Luke  asso¬ 
ciated  with,  and  therefore  he  is  more  particular  in 
recording  what  they  said  and  did,  as  afterward  what 


Paul  said  and  did,  when  he  attended  him  :  both  the 
one  and  the  other  being  designed  for  a  specimen  of 
what  the  other  apostles  did. 

Peter  and  John  had  each  of  them  a  brother  anrmng 
the  twelve,  with  which  they  were  coupled  wnftn 
they  were  sent  out ;  yet  now  they  seem  to  be  knit 
together  more  closely  than  either  of  them  to  his 
brother;  for  the  bond  of  friendship  is  sometimes 
stronger  than  that  of  relation  ;  there  is  a  friend  that 
sticks  closer  than  a  brother.  Peter  and  John  seem 
to  have  had  a  peculiar  intimacy  after  Christ’s  re¬ 
surrection  more  than  before,  John  20.  2.  The  rea¬ 
son  of  which,  (if  I  may  have  liberty  to  conjecture,) 
might  be  this ;  that  John,  a  disciple  made  up  of  love, 
was  more  compassionate  to  Peter  upon  his  fall  and 
repentance,  and  more  tender  of  him  in  his  bitter 
weefling  for  his  sin,  than  any  other  of  the  apostles 
were,  and  more  solicitous  to  restore  him  in  the  sfiirit 
of  meekness;  which  made  him  very  dear  to  Peter 
ever  after :  and  it  was  a  good  evidence  of  Peter’s  ac¬ 
ceptance  with  God,  upon  his  repentance,  that 
Christ’s  favourite  was  made  his  bosom-friend.  Da¬ 
vid  prayed,  after  his  fall,  Let  them  that  fear  thee, 
turn  unto  me,  Ps.  119.  79. 

II.  The  time  and  place  are  here  set  down  : 

1.  It  was  in  the  tem/ile,  whither  Peter  and  John 
went  up  together,  because  it  was  the  place  of  con¬ 
course  ;  there  were  the  shoals  of  fish,  among  whom 
the  net  of  the  gospel  was  to  be  cast,  especially  dur¬ 
ing  the  days  of  pentecost,  within  the  compass  of 
which  we  may  suppose  this  to  have  happened. 
Note,  It  is  good  to  go  up  to  the  temple,  to  attend  on 
public  ordinances ;  and  it  is  comfortable  to  go  up  to¬ 
gether  to  the  temple  ;  I  was  glad  when  they  said 
unto  me,  Let  us  go.  The  best'  society  is  society  in 
worshipping  of  God. 

2.  It  was  at  the  hour  of  prayer,  one  of  the  hours 
of  public  worship,  commonly  appointed  and  observ¬ 
ed  among  the  Jews  :  time  and  place  are  two  neces¬ 
sary  circumstances  of  every  action,  which  must  be 
determined  by  consent,  as  is  most  convenient  for 
edification.  With  reference  to  public  worship,  there 
must  be  a  house  of  prayer,  and  an  hour  of  prayer: 
the  ninth  hour,  that  is,  three  o’clock  in  the  afternoon, 
was  one  of  the  hours  of  prayer  among  the  Jews;  nine 
in  the  morning,  and  twelve  at  noon,  were  the  other 
two.  See  Ps.  55.  17.  Dan.  6.  10.  It  is  of  use  for  pri¬ 
vate  Christians  so  far  to  have  their  hours  of  prayer 
as  may  serve,  though  not  to  bind,  yet  to  remind, 
conscience  ;  every  thing  is  beautiful  in  its  season. 

III.  The  patient  is  here  described,  on  whom  this 
miraculous  cure  was  wrought,  v.  2.  He  was  a  poor 
lame  beggar  at  the  temple-gate. 

1.  He  was  a  cripple,  not  bv  accident  so,  but  born 
so;  he  was  lame  from  his  mother's  womb,  as  it  should 
seem,  by  a  paralytic  distemper,  which  weakened 
his  limbs  ;  for  it  is  said  in  the  description  of  his  cure, 
(v.  7.)  His  feet  and  ankle-bones  received  strength. 
Some  such  piteous  cases  now  and  then  there  are, 
which  we  ought  to  be  affected  with,  and  look  upon 
with  compassion,  and  which  are  designed  to  shew 
us  what  we  all  are  by  nature  spiritually ;  without 
strength,  lame  from  our  birth,  unable  to  work  or 
walk  in  God’s  service. 

2.  He  was  a  beggar ;  being  unable  to  work  for  his 
living,  he  must  live  upon  alms ;  such  are  God's  poor. 
He  was  laid  daily  by  his  friends  at  one  of  the  gates 
of  the  temple,  a  miserable  spectacle,  unable  to  do 
any  thing  else  for  himself  hut  to  ask  alms  of  them 
that  entered  into  the  temple  or  came  out.  There 
was  a  concourse,  and  a  concourse  of  devout  good 
people,  from  whom  charity  might  be  expected,  and 
a  concourse  of  such  people,  when  it  might  be  hoped 
they  were  in  the  best  frame  ;  and  there  he  was  laid. 

|  Those  that  need,  and  cannot  work,  must  not  be 
ashamed  to  beg.  He  would  not  have  been  laid  there, 
and  laid  daily  there,  if  he  had  not  been  used  to  meet 


29 


THE  ACTS,  111. 


with  supplies,  daily  supplies  there.  Note,  Our 
prayers  and  our  alms  should  go  together ;  Corne¬ 
lius’s  did,  c/2.  10.  4.  Objects  of  charity  should  be 
in  a  particular  manner  welcome  to  us  when  we  go 
up  to  the  temple  to  pray ;  it  is  pity  that  common 
beggars  at  church-doors  should  any  of  them  be  of 
such  a  character  as  to  discourage  charity  ;  but  they 
ought  not  always  to  be  over-looked ;  some  there  are 
surely  that  merit  regard,  and  better  feed  ten  drones, 
•yea  and  some  wasps,  than  let  one  bee  starve.  The 
'gale  of  the  temple  at  which  he  was  laid,  is  here 
named,  it  was  called  Beautiful,  for  the  extraordi¬ 
nary  splendour  and  magnificence  of  it.  Dr.  Light- 
foot  observes,  that  this  was  the  gate  that  led  out  of 
the  court  of  the  Gentiles  into  that  of  the  Jews,  and 
supposes  that  the  cripple  would  beg  only  of  the  Jews, 
as  disdaining  to  ask  any  thing  of  the  Gentiles.  But 
Dr.  Whitby  takes  it  to  be  at  the  first  entrance  into 
the  temple,  and  beautified  sumptuously,  as  became 
the  frontispiece  of  that  place  where  the  Divine  Ma¬ 
jesty  vouchsafed  to  dwell ;  and  it  was  no  diminution 
to  the  beauty  of  this  gate,  that  a  poor  man  lay  there 
oegging. 

3.  He  begged  of  Peter  and  John,  (v.  3.)  begged  an 
alms,  that  was  the  utmost  he  expected  from  them 
who  had  the  reputation  of  being  charitable  men,  and 
who,  though  they  had  not  much,  yet  did  good  with 
what  they  had.  It  was  not  many  weeks  ago  that 
the  blind  arid  the  lame  came  to  Christ  in  the  temple, 
and  were  healed  there,  Matt.  21.  14.  And  why 
might  not  he  have  asked  more  than  an  alms,  if  he  j 
knew  that  Peter  and  John  were  Christ’s  messengers,  ( 
and  preached  and  wrought  miracles  in  his  name  ? 
But  he  had  that  done  for  him,  which  he  looked  not 
for ;  asked  an  alms,  and  had  a  cure. 

IV.  We  have  here  the  method  of  the  cure : 

1.  His  expectations  were  raised.  Peter,  instead 
of  turning  his  eyes  from  him,  as  many  do  from  ob¬ 
jects  of  charity,  turned  his  eyes  to  him,  nay  he  fas¬ 
tened  his  eyes  upon  him,  that  his  eye  might  affect 
his  heart  with  compassion  toward  him,  v.  4.  John 
did  so  too,  for  they  were  both  guided  by  one  and  the 
same  Spirit,  and  concurred  in  this  miracle ;  they 
said,  Look  on  us.  Our  eye  must  be  ever  toward  the 
Lord,  (the  eye  of  our  mind,)  and,  in  token  of  that, 
the  eye  of  the  body  may  properly  be  fixed  on  those 
whom  he  employs  as  the  ministers  of  his  grace.  This 
man  needed  not  be  bidden  twice  to  look  on  the  apos¬ 
tles  ;  for  he  justly  thought  this  gave  him  cause  to 
expect  that  he  should  receive  something  from  them, 

_,and  therefore  he  gave  heed  to  them,  v.  5.  Note, 
We  must  come  to  God  both  to  attend  on  his  word, 
and  to  apply  ourselves  to  him  in  prayer,  with  hearts 
fixed  and  expectations  raised.  We  must  look  up  to 
heaven,  and  expect  to  receive  benefit  by  that  which 
God  speaks  from  thence,  and  an  answer  of  peace  to 
the  prayers  sent  up  thither.  I  will  direct  my  prayer 
unto  thee,  and  will  look  up. 

2.  His  expectations  of  an  alms  were  disappointed  ; 
Peter  said,  “  Silver  end  gold  have  I  none,  and  there¬ 
fore  none  to  give  thee  yet  he  intimates  that  if  he 
had  had  any  he  would  give  him  an  alms,  not  brass, 
but  silver  oi  gold.  Note,  (1.)  It  is  not  often  that 
Christ’s  friends  and  favourites  have  abundance  of 
the  wealth  of  this  world.  The  apostles  were  very 
poor,  had  but  just  enough  for  themselves,  and  no 
overplus.  Peter  and  John  had  abundance  of  money 
laid  at  their  feet,  but  that  was  appropriated  to  the 
maintenance  of,  the  poor  of  the  church,  and  they 
would  not  convert  any  of  it  to  their  own  use,  nor  dis¬ 
pose  of  it  otherwise  than  according  to  the  intention 
of  the  donors.  Public  trusts  ought  to  be  strictly  and 
faithfully  observed.  (2.)  Many,  who  are  well  in¬ 
clined  to  works  of  charity,  are  yet  not  in  a  capacity 
of  doing  any  thing  considerable,  while  others,  who 
have  wherewithal  to  do  much,  have  not  a  heart  to 
do  and  thing. 


3.  His  expectations,  notwithstanding,  were  quite 
outdone  ;  Peter  had  no  money  to  give  him  ;  but,  (1.) 
He  had  that  which  was  better,  such  an  interest  in 
heaven,  such  a  power  from  heaven,  as  to  be  able  to 
cure  his  disease.  Note,  Those  who  are  poor  in  the 
world,  may  yet  be  rich,  very  rich,  in  spiritual  gifts, 
graces,  and  comforts ;  certainly  there  is  that  which 
we  are  capable  of  receiving,  which  is  infinitely  bet¬ 
ter  than  silver  and  gold ;  the  merchandise  and  gain 
of  it  better,  Job  28.  12,  8cc.  Prov.  3.  14,  See.  (2.) 
He  gave  him  that  which  was  better — the  cure  of  his 
disease,  which  he  would  gladly  have  given  a  great 
deal  of  silver  and  gold  for,  if  he  had  had  it,  and  it 
could  have  been  so  obtained.  This  would  have  ena¬ 
bled  him  to  work  for  his  living,  so  that  he  should  not 
need  to  beg  any  more  ;  nay,  he  would  have  to  give 
to  them  that  needed,  and  it  is  more  blessed  to  give 
than  to  receive.  A  miraculous  cure  would  be  a 
greater  instance  of  God’s  favour,  and  would  put  a 
greater  honour  upon  him,  than  thousands  of  gold  and 
silver  could.  Observe,  When  Peter  had  no  silver 
and  gold  to  give,  yet  (says  he)  such  as  I  have  I  give 
thee.  Note,  Those  may  be,  and  ought  to  be,  other¬ 
wise  charitable  and  helpful  to  the  poor,  who  have 
not  wherewithal  to  give  in  charity ;  they  who  have 
not  silver  and  gold,  have  their  limbs  and  senses,  and 
with  these  may  be  serviceable  to  the  blind,  and  lame, 
and  sick  ;  which  if  they  be  not,  as  there  is  occasion, 
neither  would  they  give  to  them  if  they  had  silver 
and  gold.  As  every  one  has  received  the  gift,  so  let 
him  minister  it. 

Let  us  now  see  how  the  cure  was  wrought : 

[1.]  Christ  sent  his  word,  and  healed  him;  (Ps. 
107.  20.)  for  healing  grace  is  given  by  the  word  of 
Christ ;  that  is  the  vehicle  of  the  healing  virtue  de¬ 
rived  from  Christ.  Christ  spake  cures  by  himself, 
the  apostles  spake  them  in  his  name.  Peter  bids  a 
lame  man  rise  up  and  walk  ;  which  would  have  been 
a  banter  upon  him,  if  he  had  not  premised  in  the 
name  of  Jesus  of  Nazareth  ;  “  I  say  it  by  warrant 
from  him,  and  it  shall  be  done  by  power  from  him, 
and  all  the  glory  and  praise  of  it  shall  be  ascribed  to 
him.”  He  calls  Christ  Jesus  of  Nazareth,  which 
was  a  name  of  reproach,  to  intimate,  that  the  indig¬ 
nities  done  him  on  earth  served  but  as  a  foil  to  his 
glories  now  that  he  was  in  heaven.  “  Give  him 
what  name  you  will,  call  him  if  you  will  in  scorn 
Jesus  of  Nazareth,  in  that  name  you  shall  see  won¬ 
ders  done ;  for  because  he  humbled  himself,  thus 
highly  was  he  exalted.”  He  bids  the  cripple  rise 
up  and  walk ;  which  does  not  prove  that  he  had 
power  in  himself  to  do  it,  but  proves  (if  he  attempt 
to  rise  and  walk,  and,  in  a  sense  of  his  own  impo- 
tency,  depend  upon  a  divine  power  to  enable  him  to 
do  it)  that  he  shall  be  enabled;  and  by  rising  and 
walking  he  must  evidence  that  that  power  has 
wrought  upon  him  ;  and  then  let  him  take  the  com¬ 
fort,  and  let  God  have  the  praise.  Thus  it  is  in  the 
healing  of  our  souls,  that  are  spiritually  impotent. 

[2.]  Peter  lent  his  hand,  and  helped  him;  [y.  7.) 
He  took  him  by  the  right  hand  in  the  same  name  in 
which  he  had  spoken  to  him  to  arise  and  walk,  and 
lifted  him  up.  Not  that  this  could  contribute  any 
thing  to  his  cure  ;  it  was  but  a  sign,  plainly  intimat¬ 
ing  the  help  he  should  receive  from  God,  if  he  ex¬ 
erted  himself  as  he  was  bidden.  When  God  by  his 
word  commands  us  to  rise,  and  walk  in  the  way  of 
his  commandments,  if  we  mix  faith  with  that  word, 
and  lay  our  souls  under  the  power  of  it,  he  will  give 
his  Spirit  to  take  us  by  the  hand,  and  lift  us  up.  If 
we  set  ourselves  to  do  what  we  can,  God  has  pro¬ 
mised  his  grace  to  enable  us  to  do  what  we  cannot : 
and  by  that  promise  we  partake  of  a  new  nature ; 
and  that  grace  shall  not  be  in  vain  ;  it  was  not  here  ; 
his  feet  and  ankle-bones  received  strength;  which 
they  had  not  done,  if  he  had  not  attempted  to  rise, 

I  and  been  helped  up ;  he  does  his  part,  and  Peter 


1 


30  '  THE  ACTS,  III. 


does  his,  and  yet  it  is  Christ  that  does  all :  it  is  he 
that  puts  strength  into  him .  As  the  bread  multi¬ 
plied  in  the  breaking,  and  the  water  was  turned  into 
wine  in  the  pouring  out,  so  strength  was  given  to  the 
cripple’s  feet  in  his  stirring  them  and  using  them. 

V.  Here  is  the  impression  which  this  cure  made 
upon  the  patient  himself,  which  we  may  best  con¬ 
ceive  of,  it  we  put  our  soul  into  his  soul’s  stead. 

1.  He  leaped  up,  in  obedience  to  the  command, 
Arise.  He  found  in  himself  such  a  degree  of  strength 
in  his  feet  and  ankle-bones,  that  he  did  not  steal  up, 
with  fear  and  trembling,  as  weak  people  do  when 
they  begin  to  recover  strength  ;  but  he  started  up, 
as  one  refreshed  with  sleep,  boldly,  and  with  great 
agility,  and  as  one  that  questioned  not  his  own 
strength.  The  incomes  of  strength  were  sudden, 
and  he  no  less  sudden  in  shewing  them.  He  leaped, 
as  one  glad  to  quit  the  bed  or  pad  of  straw  on  which 
he  had  lain  so  long  lame. 

2.  He  stood,  and  ’walked ;  he  stood  without  either 
leaning  or  trembling,  stood  straight  up,  and  walked 
without  a  staff ;  he  trod  strongly,  and  moved  stea¬ 
dily  ;  and  this  was  to  manifest  the  cure,  and  that  it 
was  a  thorough  cure.  Note,  Those  who  have  had 
experience  of  the  working  of  divine  grace  upon  them, 
should  evidence  what  they  have  experienced.  Has 
God  put  strength  into  us  ?  Let  us  stand  before  him  in 
the  exercises  of  devotion,  let  us  walk  before  him  in 
all  the  instances  of  a  religious  conversation.  Let  us 
stand  up  resolutely  for  him,  and  walk  cheerfully  with 
him,  and  both  in  strength  derived  and  received  from 
him. 

3.  He  held  Peter  and  John,  v.  11.  We  need  not 
ask  whv  he  held  them.  I  believe  he  scarcelv  knew 
himself :  but  it  was  in  \  ‘ransport  of  joy  that  ne  em¬ 
braced  them  as  the  best  benefactors  he  ever  met 
with,  and  hung  upon  them  to  a  degree  of  rudeness ; 
he  would  not  let  them  go  forward,  but  would  have 
them  stay  with  him,  while  he  published  to  all  about 
him  what  God  had  done  for  him  by  them.  Thus 
he  :estified  his  affection  to  them,  he  held  them,  and 
would  not  let  them  go.  Some  suggest  that  he  clung 
to  them  for  fear  lest,  if  they  should  leave  him,  his 
lameness  should  return.  Those  whom  God  hath 
healed,  love  them  whom  he  made  instruments  of 
their  healing,  and  see  the  need  of  their  further  help. 

4.  He  entered  with  them  into  the  temple.  His 
strong  affection  to  them  held  them  ;  but  it  should  not 
hold  them  so  fast  as  to  keep  them  out  of  the  temple, 
whither  they  were  going  to.  preach  Christ.  We 
should  never  suffer  ourselves  to  be  diverted  by  the 
most  affectionate  kindnesses  of  our  friends,  from  go¬ 
ing  in  the  way  of  our  duty.  But  if  they  will  not  stay 
with  him,  he  is  resolved  to  go  with  them,  and  the 
rather  because  they  are  going  into  the  temple, 
whence  he  had  been  so  long  kept  by  his  weakness 
and  his  begging.  The  Impotent  man  whom  Christ 
cured,  was  presently  found  in  the  temple,  John  5. 
14.  He  went  into  the  temple,  not  only  to  offer  up 
his  praises  and  thanksgivings  to  God,  but  to  hear 
more  from  the  apostles  of  that  Jesus  in  whose  name 
he  had  been  healed.  Those  that  have  experienced 
the  power  of  Christ,  should  earnestly  desire  to  grow 
in  their  acquaintance  with  Christ. 

5.  He  was  there  walking,  and  leaping,  and  prais- 
ing  God.'  Note,  The  strength  God  has  given  us 
both  in  mind  and  body,  should  be  made  use  of  to  his 
praise,  and  we  should  study  how  to  honour  him  with 
it.  1  hose  that  are  healed  in  his  name,  must  walk 
up  and  down  in  his  name,  and  in  his  strength,  Zech. 
10.  12.  Tills  man,  as  soon  as  he  could  leap,  leaped 
for  joy  in  God,  and  praised  him.  Here  was  that 
scripture  fulfilled,  (Isa.  35.  6.)  Then  shall  the  lame 
man  leap  as  a  hart.  Now  that  this  man  was  newly 
cured,  he  was  in  this  excess  of  joy  and  thankfulness. 
All  true  converts  walk,  and  praise  God ;  but  per¬ 
haps  young  converts  leap  more  in  his  praises. 


VI.  How  the  people  that  were  eye-witnesses  of  this 
miracle,  were  influenced  by  it,  we  are  next  told. 

1.  They  were  entirely  satisfied  in  the  truth  of  the 
miracle,  and  had  nothing  to  object  against  it.  They 
knew  it  was  he  that  sat  begging  at  the  Beautiful  gaze 
of  the  temple,  v.  10.  He  had  sat  there  so  long,  that 
they  all  knew  him ;  and  for  that  reason  he  was  chosen 
to  be  the  vessel  of  this  mercy.  Now  they  were  not 
so  perverse  as  to  make  any  doubt  whether  he  was 
the  same  man,  as  the  Pharisees  had  questioned  con¬ 
cerning  the  blind  man  that  Christ  cured,  John  9.  11. 
They  now  saw  him  walking,  and  praising  God,  (y. 
9.)  and  perhaps  took  notice  of  a  change  in  his  mind  : 
for  he  was  now  as  loud  in  praising  God  as  he  had 
used  to  be  in  begging  relief.  The  best  evidence  that 
it  was  a  complete  cure,  was,  that  he  praised  God 
for  it.  Mercies  are  then  perfected,  when  they  are 
sanctified. 

2.  They  admired  at  it ;  they  were  filed  with  won 
der  and  amazement,  (y.  10.)  greatly  wondering,  v 
11.  They  were  in  an  ecstasy.  There  seems  to  be 
this  effect  of  the  pouring  out  of  the  Spirit,  that  the 
people,  at  least  those  in  Jerusalem,  were  more  af¬ 
fected  with  the'miracles  the  apostles  wrought  than 
they  had  been  with  those  of  the  same  kind  that  had 
been  wrought  by  Christ  himself ;  and  this  was  in 
order  to  the  miracles  answering  their  end. 

3.  They  gathered  about  Peter  and  John  ;  All  the 
people  ran  together  unto  them  in  Solomon’s  porch : 
some,  only  to  gratify  their  curiosity  with  the  sight 
of  men  that  had  such  power ;  others,  with  a  desire 
to  hear  them  preach,  concluding  that  their  doctrine 
must  needs  be  of  divine  original,  which  thus  had  a 
divine  ratification.  They  flocked  to  them  in  Solo¬ 
mon’s  porch,  a  part  of  the  court  of  the  Gentiles, 
where  Solomon  had  built  the  outer  porch  of  the 
temple.  Or,  it  was  some  cloisters  or  piazzas  which 
Herod  had  erected  upon  the  same  foundation  which 
Solomon  had  built  that  stately  porch  upon,  that  bore 
his  name  ;  Herod  being  ambitious  herein  to  be  a  se¬ 
cond  Solomon.  Here  the  people  met,  to  see  this 
great  sight. 

12.  And  when  Peter  saw  it,  he  answered 
unto  the  people,  Ye  men  of  Israel,  why 
marvel  ye  at  this  ?  Or  why  look  ye  so  ear¬ 
nestly  on  us,  as  though  by  our  own  power 
or  holiness  we  had  made  this  man  to  walk  ? 
13.  The  God  of  Abraham,  and  of  Isaac, 
and  of  Jacob,  the  God  of  our  fathers,  hath 
glorified  his  Son  Jesus ;  whom  ye  delivered 
up,  and  denied  him  in  the  presence  of  Pi¬ 
late,  when  he  was  determined  to  let  him 
go.  14.  But  ye  denied  the  Holy  One  and 
the  Just,  and  desired  a  murderer  to  be 
granted  unto  you;  15.  And  killed  the 
Prince  of  life,  whom  God  hath  raised  from 
the  dead;  whereof  we  are  witnesses.  16. 
And  his  name  through  faith  in  his  name 
hath  made  this  man  strong,  whom  ye  see 
and  know :  yea,  the  faith  which  is  by  him 
hath  given  him  this  perfect  soundness  in 
the  presence  of  you  all.  17.  And  now, 
brethren,  I  wot  that  through  ignorance  ye 
did  it,  as  did  also  your  rulers.  1 8.  But  those 
things,  which  God  before  had  shewed  by 
the  mouth  of  all  his  prophets,  that  Christ 
should  suffer,  he  hath  so  fulfilled.  19.  Re¬ 
pent  ye  therefore,  and  be  converted,  that 
your  sins  may  be  blotted  out,  when  the 


31 


THE  ACTS,  III. 


times  of  refreshing  shall  come  from  the 
presence  of  the  Lord ;  20.  And  he  shall 
send  Jesus  Christ,  which  before  was 
preached  unto  you:  21.  Whom  the  hea¬ 
ven  must  receive  until  the  times  of  restitu¬ 
tion  of  all  things,  which  God  hath  spoken 
by  the  mouth  of  all  his  holy  prophets  since 
the  world  began.  22.  For  Moses  truly 
said  unto  the  fathers,  A  prophet  shall  the 
Lord  your  God  raise  up  unto  you  of  your 
brethren,  like  unto  me-;  him  shall  ye  hear 
in  all  things  whatsoever  he  shall  say  unto 
you.  23.  And  it  shall  come  to  pass,  that 
every  soul,  which  will  not  hear  that  pro¬ 
phet,  shall  be  destroyed  from  among  the 
people.  24.  Yea,  and  all  the  prophets  from 
Samuel  and  those  that  follow  after,  as  ma¬ 
ny  as  have  spoken,  have  likewise  foretold 
of  these  days.  25.  Ye  are  the  children  of 
the  prophets,  and  of  the  covenant  which 
God  made  with  our  fathers,  saying  unto 
Abraham,  And  in  thy  seed  shall  all  the 
kindreds  of  the  earth  be  blessed.  26.  Unto 
you  first  God,  having  raised  up  his  Son  Je¬ 
sus,  sent  him  to  bless  you,  in  turning  away 
every  one  of  you  from  his  iniquities. 

We  have  here  the  sermon  which  Peter  preached 
after  he  had  cured  the  lame  man.  When  Peter  saw 
it.  1.  When  he  saiv  the  people  got  together  in  a 
crowd,  he  took  that  opportunity  to  preach  Christ  to 
them,  especially  the  temple  being  the  place  of  their 
concourse,  and  Solomon's  porch  there,  let  them 
come  and  hear  a  more  excellent  wisdom  than  Solo¬ 
mon’s,  for  behold,  a  greater  than  Solomon  is  here 
preached.  2.  When  he  saw  the  people  affected  with 
the  miracle,  and  filled  with  admiration,  then  he 
sowed  the  gospel-seed  in  the  ground,  which  was 
thus  broken  up,  and  prepared  to  receive  it.  3. 
When  he  saw  the  people  ready  to  adore  him  and 
John,  he  stepped  in  immediately,  and  diverted  their 
respect  from  them,  that  they  might  be  directed  to 
Christ  onlv ;  to  this  he  answered  presently,  as  Paul 
and  Barnabas  at  Lystra.  See  ch.  14.  14,  15.  In  the 
sermon, 

I.  He  humbly  disclaims  the  honour  of  the  mira¬ 
cle  as  not  due  to  them,  who  were  only  the  ministers 
of  Christ,  or  instruments  in  his  hand  for  the  doing 
of  it.  The  doctrines  they  preached  were  not  of 
their  own  invention,  nor  were  the  seals  of  it  their 
own,  hut  his  whose  the  doctrines  were.  He  ad¬ 
dresses  himself  to  them  as  men  of  Israel,  men,  to 
whom  pertained,  not  only  the  law  and  the  promises, 
but  the  gospel  and  the  performances,  and  who  were 
nearly  interested  in  the  present  dispensation.  Two 
things  he  asks  them  : 

1.  Why  they  were  so  surprised  at  the  miracle  it¬ 
self;  Why  marvel  ye  at  this?  It  was  indeed  mar¬ 
vellous,  and  they  justly  wondered  at  it,  but  it  was 
no  more  than  what  Christ  had  done  many  a  time, 
and  they  had  not  duly  regarded  it,  or  been  affected 
with  it.  It  was  but  a  little  before,  that  Christ  had 
raised  Lazarus  from  the  dead ;  and  why  should 
this  then  seem  so  strange?  Note,  Stupid  people 
think  that  strange  now,  which  might  have  been  fa¬ 
miliar  to  them,  if  it  had  not  been  their  own  fault. 
Christ  had  lately  risen  from  the  dead  himself ;  why 
did  they  not  marvel  at  that  ?  Why  were  they  not 
convinced  at  that  ? 

2.  Why  they  gave  so  much  of  the  praise  of  it  to 


them  that  were  only  the  instruments  of  it ;  Why  look 
ye  so  earnestly  on  us?  (1.)  It  was  certain  that  they 
had  made  this  man  to  walk,  by  which  it  appeared 
that  the  apostles  not  only  were  sent  of  God,  but  were 
sent  to  be  blessings  to  the  world,  benefactors  to  man¬ 
kind,  and  were  sent  to  heal  sick  and  distempered 
souls,  that  were  spiritually  lame  and  impotent,  to 
set  broken  bones,  and  make  them  rejoice.  (2.)  Yet 
they  did  not  do  it  by  any  power  or  holiness  of  their 
own  ;  it  was  not  done  by  any  might  of  their  own, 
any  skill  they  had  in  physic  or  surgery,  or  any  vir¬ 
tue  in  their  word;  the  power  they  did  it  by,  was 
wholly  derived  from  Christ ;  nor  was  it  done  by  any 
merit  of  their  own  ;  the  power  which  Christ  gave 
them  to  do  it  they  had  not  deserved,  it  was  not  by 
their  own  holiness ;  for  as  they  were  weak  things, 
so  they  were  foolish  things,  that  Christ  chose  to  em¬ 
ploy  ;  Peter  was  a  sinful  man.  What  holiness  had 
Judas  ?  Yet  he  wrought  miracles  in  Christ's  name. 
What  holiness  any  of  them  had,  it  was  wrought  in 
them,  and  they  could  not  pretend,  to  merit  by  it. 
(3.)  It  was  the' people’s  fault  that  they  attributed  it 
to  their  power  and  holiness,  and  accordingly  looked 
at  them.  Note,  The  instruments  of  God’s  favour 
to  us,  though  they  must  be  respected,  must  not  be 
idolized  ;  we  must  take  heed  of  reckoning  that  to  be 
done  by  the  instrument,  which  God  is  the  Author 
of.  (4.)  It  was  the  praise  of  Peter  and  John,  that 
they  would  not  take  the  honour  of  this  miracle  to 
themselves,  but  carefully  transmitted  it  to  Christ. 
Useful  men  must  see  to  it  that  they  be  very  hum¬ 
ble.  Not  unto  us,  O  Lord,  not  unto  us,  but  to  thy 
name,  give  glory.  Every  crown  must  be  cast  at  the 
feet  of  Christ ;  ' not  I,  but  the  grace  of  God  with  me. 

II.  He  preaches  Christ  to  them,  that  was  his  bu¬ 
siness,  that  he  might  lead  them  into  obedience  to 
Christ. 

1.  He  preaches  Christ,  as  the  true  Messiah  pro¬ 
mised  to  the  fathers,  v.  13.  for,  (1.)  He  is  Jesus  the 
Son  of  God ;  though  they  had  lately  condemned 
Chi-ist  as  a  blasphemer,  for  saying  that  he  was  the 
Son  of  God,  yet  Peter  avows  it ;  he  is  his  Son  Jesus; 
to  him,  dear  as  a  Son  ;  to  us,  Jesus,  a  Saviour.  (2.) 
God  hath  glorified  him,  in  raising  him  up  to  be 
King,  Priest,  and  Prophet,  of  his  church  ;  he  glori¬ 
fied  him  in  his  life,  and  in  his  death,  as  well  as  in  his 
resurrection  and  ascension.  (3.)  He  hath  glorified 
him  as  the  God  of  our  fathers,  whom  he  names  with 
respect,  for  they  were  great  names  with  the  men  of 
Israel,  and  justly,  the,  God  of  Abraham,  of  Isaac, 
and  of  Jacob.  God  sent  him  into  the  world,  pur¬ 
suant  to  the  promises  made  to  those  patriarchs,  that 
in  their  seed  the  families  of  the  earth  should  be  blessed, 
and  the  covenant  made  with  them,  that  God  would 
be  a  God  to  them,  and  their  seed.  The  apostles  call 
the  patriarchs,  their  fathers,  and  God,  the  God  of 
those  patriarchs,  from  whom  the  Jews  were  de¬ 
scended  ;  to  intimate  to  them,  that  they  had  no  evil 
design  upon  the  Jewish  nation,  (that  they  should 
look  upon  them  with  a  jealous  eye,)  but  had  a  value 
and  concern  for  it,  and  were  hereby  well-wishers  to 
it;  and  the  gospel  they  preached,  was  the  revela¬ 
tion  of  the  mind  and  will  of  the  God  of  Abraham. 
See  ch.  26.  7,  22.  Luke  1.  72,  73. 

2.  He  charges  them  flat  and  plain  with  the  mur¬ 
der  of  this  Jesus,  as  he  had  done  before.  (1.)  “  You 
delivered  him  up  to  your  chief  priests  and  elders,  the 
representative  body  of  the  nation  ;  and  you  of  the 
common  people  were  influenced  by  them,  to  cla¬ 
mour  against  him,  as  if  he  had  been  a  public  griev¬ 
ance.”  (2.)  “  You  denied  him,  and  you  disowned 
him,  would  not  have  him  then  to  be  your  King, 
could  not  look  upon  him  as  the  Messiah,  because  he 
came  not  in  external  pomp  and  power ;  you  denied 
him  in  the  presence  of  Pilate,  renounced  all  the  ex- 

Sectations  of  your  church,  in  the  presence  of  the 
oman  governor,  who  justly  laughed  at  you  for  it ; 


32 


THE  ACTS,  III. 


you  denied  him  against  the  face  of  Pilate ,”  (so  Dr. 
Hammond,)  “in  defiance  of  his  reasonings  with 
you.”  ( Pilate  had  determined  to  let  him  go,  but  the 
people  opposed  it,  and  over-ruled  him. )  “  You  were 
worse  than  Pilate,  for  he  would  have  released  him, 
if  you  had  let  him  follow  his  own  judgment.  You 
denied  the  Holy  One,  and  the  Just,  who  had  ap¬ 
proved  himself  so,  and  all  the  malice  of  his  perse¬ 
cutors  could  not  disprove  it.”  The  holiness  and  jus¬ 
tice  of  the  Lord  Jesus,  which  are  something  more 
than  his  innocency,  were  a  great  aggravation  of  the 
sin  of  those  that  put  him  to  death.  (3.)  “  You  de¬ 
sired  a  murderer  to  be  released,  and  Christ  crucified ; 
as  if  Barabbas  had  deserved  better  at  your  hands, 
than  the  Lord  Jesus;  than  which  a  greater  affront 
could  not  be  put  upon  him.”  (4.)  You  killed  the 
Prince  of  life.  Observe  the  antithesis :  “  You  pre¬ 
served  a  murderer,  a  destroyer  of  life  ;  and  de¬ 
stroyed  the  Saviour,  the  Author  of  life.  You  killed 
him  who  was  sent  to  be  to  you  the  Prince  of  life,  and 
so  not  only  forsook,  but  rebelled  against,  your  own 
mercies.  You  did  an  ungrateful  thing,  in  taking 
away  his  life,  who  would  have  been  your  Life.  You 
did  a  foolish  thing,  to  think  you  could  conquer  the 
Prince  of  life,  who  has  life  in  himself,  and  would 
soon  resume  the  life  he  resigned.  ” 

3.  He  attests  his  resurrection  as  before,  ch.  2.  32. 
“  You  thought  the  Prince  of  life  might  be  deprived 
of  his  life,  as  any  other  prince  might  be  deprived  of 
his  dignity  and  dominion,  but  you  found  yourselves 
mistaken,  for  God  raised  him  from  the  dead ;  so 
that  in  putting  him  to  death,  you  fought  against 
God,  and  were  baffled.  God  raised  him  from  the 
dead,  and  thereby  ratified  his  demands,  and  con¬ 
firmed  his  doctrine,  and  rolled  away  all  the  reproach 
of  his  sufferings,  and  for  the  truth  of  his  resurrection, 
•we  are  all  witnesses.  ” 

4.  He  ascribes  the  cure  of  this  impotent  man  to 
the  power  of  Christ;  (x\  16.)  His  name,  through 
faith  in  his  name,  in  that  discovery  which  he  hath 
made  of  himself,  has  made  this  man  strong.  He  re¬ 
peats  it  again,  The  faith  which  is  by  him  hath  given 
him  this  soundness.  Here,  (1.)  He  appeals  to  them¬ 
selves  concerning  the  truth  of  the  miracle  ;  the  man, 
on  whom  it  was  wrought,  is  one  whom  ye  see,  and 
know,  and  have  known  ;  he  was  not  acquainted  with 
Peter  and  John  before,  so  that  there  was  no  room  to 
suspect  a  compact  between  them  ;  “You  know  him 
to  be  a  cripple  from  a  child.  The  miracle  was 
wrought  publicly,  in  the  presence  of  you  all ;  not  in 
a  corner,  but  in  the  gate  of  the  temple  ;  you  see  in 
what  manner  it  was  done,  so  that  there  could  be  no 
juggle  in  it ;  you  had  liberty  to  examine  it  imme¬ 
diately,  and  may  yet.  The  cure  is  complete,  it  is  a 
perfect  soundness  ;  you  see  the  man  walks  and  leaps, 
as  one  that  has  no  remainder  either  of  weakness  or 
pain.”  (2.)  He  acquaints  them  with  the  power  by 
which  it  was  wrought.  [1.]  It  is  done  by  the  name 
of  Christ,  not  merely  by  naming  it  as  a  spell  or 
charm,  but  it  is  done  t>y  us  as  professors  and  preach¬ 
ers  of  his  name,  by  virtue  of  a  commission  and  in¬ 
structions  we  have  received  from  him,  and  a  power 
which  he  has  invested  us  with  ;  that  name  which 
Christ  has  above  ex<ery  name;  his  authority,  his 
command,  has  done  it ;  as  writs  run  in  the  king’s 
name,  though  it  is  an  inferior  officer  that  executes 
them.  [2.]  The  power  of  Christ  is  fetched  in, 
through  faith  in  his  name,  a  confidence  in  him,  a  de¬ 
pendence  on  him,  a  believing  application  to  him, 
and  expectation  from  him,  even  that  faith  which  is 
J'i  duri — by  him,  which  is  of  his  working ;  it  is  not 
of  ourselves,  it  is  the  gift  of  Christ ;  and  it  is  for  his 
sake,  that  he  may  have  the  glory  of  it;  for  he  is 
both  the  Author  and  Finisher  of  our  faith.  Dr. 
Lightfoot  suggests,  that  faith  is  twice  named  in  this 
verse,  because  of  the  apostles’  faith  in  doing  this 
miracle,  and  the  cripple’s  faith  in  receiving  it;  but 


I  suppose  it  relates  chiefly,  if  not  only,  to  the  for¬ 
mer.  They  that  wrought  this  miracle  by  faith,  de¬ 
rived  power  from  Christ  to  work  it,  and  therefore 
returned  all  the  glory  to  him.  By  this  time  and  just 
account  of  the  miracle,  Peter  both  confirmed  the 
great  gospel-truth  they  were  to  preach  to  the  world 
— that  Jesus  Christ  is  the  Fountain  of  all  power  and 
grace,  and  the  great  Healer  and  Saviour ;  and  re¬ 
commended  the  great  gospel  duty  of  faith  in  him, 
as  the  only  way  of  receiving  benefit  by  him.  It  ex-- 
plains  likewise  the  great  gospel-mystery  of  our  sal¬ 
vation  by  Christ ;  it  is  his  name  that  justifies  us,  that 
glorious  name  of  his,  The  Lord,  our  Righteousness; 
but  we,  in  particular,  are  justified  by  that  name 
through  faith  in  it,  applying  it  to  ourselves.  Thus 
does  Peter  preach  unto  them  Jesus,  and  him  cruci¬ 
fied,  as  a  faithful  friend  of  the  Bridegroom,  to  whose 
service  and  honour  he  devoted  all  his  interest. 

III.  He  encourages  them  to  hope  that,  though 
they  had  been  guilty  of  putting  Christ  to  death,  yet 
they  might  find  mercy ;  he  does  all  lie  can  to'con- 
vince  them,  yet  is  careful  not  to  drive  them  to  des¬ 
pair.  The  guilt  was  very  great,  but, 

1.  He  mollifies  their  crime  by  a  candid  imputation 
of  it  to  their  ignorance.  Perhaps,  he  perceived  bv 
the  countenance  of  his  hearers,  that  they  were  struck 
with  an  exceeding  horror,  when  he  told  them  that 
they  had  killed  the  Prince  of  life,  and  were  ready 
either  to  sink  down,  or  to  fly  ofr,  and  therefore  he 
saw  it  needful  to  mitigate  the  rigour  of  the  charge, 
by  calling  them  brethren;  and  well  might  he  call 
them  so,  for  he  had  been  himself  a  brother  with 
them  in  this  iniquity  ;  he  had  denied  the  Holy  One, 
and  the  Just,  and  sworn  that  he  did  not  know  him  ; 
he  did  it  by  surprise  ;  and  for  your  parts,  I  know 
that  through  ignorance  ye  did  it,  as  did  also  your 
rulers,  v.  17.  This  was  the  language  of  Peter’s 
charity,  and  teaches  us  to  make  the  best  of  those 
whom  we  desire  to  make  better.  Peter  had  search¬ 
ed  the  wound  to  the  bottom,  and  now  he  begins  to 
think  of  healing  it  up,  in  order  to  which  it  is  neces¬ 
sary  to  beget  in  them  a  good  opinion  of  their  phy¬ 
sician  ;  and  could  any  thing  be  more  winning  than 
this  ?  That  which  bears  him  out  in  it,  is,  that  he 
has  the  example  of  his  Master’s  praying  for  his  cru¬ 
cifers,  and  pleading  in  their  behalf,  that  they  knew 
not  what  they  did.  And  it  is  said  of  the  rulers,  that 
if  they  had  known,  they  would  not  have  crucified 
the  Lord  of  glory.  See  1  Cor.  2.  8.  Perhaps  some 
of  the  rulers,  and  of  the  people,  did  therein  rebel 
against  the  light  and  the  convictions  of  their  own 
consciences,  and  did  it  through  malice  ;  but  the  ge¬ 
nerality  went  down  the  stream,  and  did  it  through 
ignorance ;  as  Paul  persecuted  the  church,  igno¬ 
rantly,  and  in  unbelief,  1  Tim.  1.  13. 

2.  He  mollifies  the  effect  of  their  crime — the 
death  of  the  l3rince  o  f  life  ;  this  sounds  very  dread¬ 
ful,  but  it  was  according  to  the  scriptures,  (v.  18.) 
the  predictions  of  which,  though  they  did  not  neces¬ 
sitate  their  sin,  vet  did  necessitate  his  sufferings  ;  so 
he  himself  saith,  Thus  it  is  written,  and  tints  it  be¬ 
hoved  Christ  to  suffer.  You  did  it  through  igno¬ 
rance,  may  be  taken  in  this  sense  ;  “  You  fulfilled 
the  scripture,  and  did  not  know  it ;  God,  by  your 
hands,  hath  fulfilled  what  he  shewed  by  the  mouth 
of  all  his  prophets,  that  Christ  should  suffer  ;  that 
was  his  design  in  delivering  him  up  to  you,  but  you 
had  views  of  your  own,  and  were  altogether  igno¬ 
rant  of  that  design  ;  you  meant  not  so,  neither  did 
your  heart  think  so.  God  was  fulfilling  the  scrip¬ 
ture,  when  you  were  gratifying  vour  own  passions.” 
Observe,  It  was  not  only  determined  in  the  secret 
counsel  of  God,  but  declared  to  the  world  many 
ages  before,  by  the  mouth  and  pen  of  the  prophets, 
that  Christ  should  su  ffer,  in  order  to  the  accomplish¬ 
ment  of  his  undertaking ;  and  it  was  God  himself 
that  shewed  it  by  them,  who  will  see  that  his  words 


33 


THE  ACTS,  III. 


be  made  good  ;  what  he  shewed,  he  fulfilled  ;  he  so 
fulfilled,  so  as  he  had  shewed,  punctually  and  ex¬ 
actly,  without  any  variation.  Now,  though  this  is 
no  extenuation  at  all  of  their  sin  in  hating  and  per¬ 
secuting  Christ  to  the  death,  (that  still  appears  ex¬ 
ceeding  sinful,)  yet  it  was  an  encouragement  to  them 
to  repent,  and  hope  for  mercy  upon  their  repent¬ 
ance  ;  not  only  because  in  general  God’s  gracious 
designs  were  carried  on  by  it,  (and  thus  it  agrees 
with  the  encouragement  Joseph  gave  to  his  brethren, 
when  they  thought  their  offence  against  him  almost 
unpardonable  ;  Fear  not,  saith  he,  you  thought  evil 
against  me,  but  God  meant  it  unto  good,  Gen.  50. 
15,  20. )  but  because  in  particular  the  death  and  suf¬ 
ferings  of  Christ  were  for  the  remission  of  sins,  and 
the  ground  of  that  display  of  mercy  which  he  now 
encouraged  them  to  hope  for. 

IV.  He  exhorts  them  all  to  turn  Christians,  and 
assures  them  it  would  be  unspeakably  for  their  ad¬ 
vantage  to  do  so ;  it  would  be  the  making  of  them 
for  ever.  This  is  the  application  of  his  sermon. 

1.  He  tells  them  what  they  must  believe. 

(1.)  They  must  believe  that  Jesus  Christ  is  the 
promised  Seed,  that  Seed  in  which,  God  had  told 
Abraham,  all  the  kindreds  of  the  earth  should  be 
blessed,  v.  25.  This  refers  to'  that  promise  made  to 
Abraham,  (Gen.  12.  3.)  which  promise  was  long  ere 
it  was  fulfilled,  but  now  at  length  had  its  accom¬ 
plishment  in  this  Jesus,  who  was  of  the  seed  of 
Abraham,  according  to  the  flesh,  and  in  him  all  the 
families  of  the  earth  are  blessed,  and  not  the  families 
of  Israel  only ;  all  have  some  benefits  by  him,  and 
some  have  ail  benefits. 

(2.)  They  must  believe  that  Jesus  Christ  is  a 
Prophet,  that  Prophet  like  unto  Moses,  which  God 
had  promised  to  raise  up  to  them  from  among  their 
brethren,  v.  22.  This  refers  to  that  promise,  Deut. 
IS.  Christ  is  a  Prophet,  for  by  him  God  speaks 
unto  us  ;  in  him  all  divine  revelation  centres,  and 
by  him  it  is  handed  to  us ;  he  is  a  Prophet,  like  unto 
Moses,  a  Favourite  of  Heaven  ;  more  intimately  ac¬ 
quainted  with  the  divine  counsel,  and  more  fami-  | 
liarly  conversed  with,  than  any  other  prophets.  He 
was  a  Deliverer  of  his  people  out  of  bondage,  and 
their  Guide  through  the  wilderness,  like  Moses  ;  a 
Prince  and  a  Lawgiver,  like  Moses ;  the  Builder 
of  the  true  tabernacle,  as  Moses  was  of  the  typi¬ 
cal  one.  Moses  Avas  faithful  as  a  servant,  Christ 
as  a  Son.  Moses  was  murmured  against  by  Israel, 
defied  by  Pharaoh,  yet  God  owned  him,  and  rati¬ 
fied  his  commission.  Moses  Avas  a  pattern  of  meek¬ 
ness  and  patience,  so  is  Christ.  Moses  died  by  the 
word  of  the  Lord,  so  did  Christ.  There  was  no  pro¬ 
phet  like  unto  Moses,  (Numb.  12.  6,  7.  Deut.  34. 
10.)  but  a  greater  than  Moses  is  here  Avhere  Christ 

is.  He  is  a  Prophet  of  God’s  raising  up,  for  he  took 
not  this  honour  of  himself,  but  Avas  called  of  God  to 

it.  He  Avas  raised  up  unto  Israel  in  the  first  place  ; 
he  executed  this  office  in  his  OAvn  person,  among 
them  only  ;  they  had  the  first  offer  of  divine  grace 
made  to  them  ;  and  therefore  he  Avas  raised  up  from 
among  them  ;  of  them,  as  concerning  the  flesh,  Christ 
came  ;  Avhich,  as  it  Avas  a  great  honour  done  to  them, 
so  it  Avas  both  an  obligation  upon  them,  and  an  en¬ 
couragement  to  them,  to  embrace  him.  If  he  come 
to  his  own,  one  Avould  think,  they  should  receive  him. 
The  Old  Testament  church  Avas  blessed  Avith  many 
prophets,  Avith  schools  of  prophets,  for  many  ages 
Avith  a  constant  succession  of  prophets  ;  (Avhich  is 
here  taken  notice  of,  from  Samuel,  and  those  that 
follow  after,  v.  24.  for  from  him  the  prophetic  xra 
did  commence  ;)  but  those  serArants  being  abused, 
last  of  all  God  sent  them  his  Son  Avho  had  been  in  his 
bosom. 

(3.)  They  must  believe  that  times  of  refreshing 
will  come  from  the  presence  of  the  Lord,  (y.  19.) 
and  that  they  will  be  the  times  of  the  restitution  of 

Vol.  VI.— E  • 


all  things,  v.  21.  There  is  a  future  state,  another 
life  after  this  ;  those  times  will  come  from  the  pre¬ 
sence  of  the  Lord,  from  his  glorious  appearance  at 
that  day,  his  coming  at  the  end  of  time.  The  ab¬ 
sence  of  the  I.ord  occasions  many  of  the  securities 
of  sinners,  and  the  distrusts  of  saints  ;  but  his  pre¬ 
sence  is  hastening  on,  Avhich  will  for  ever  silence 
both.  Behold,  the  Judge  standeth  before  the  door. 
The  presence  of  the  Lord  Avill  introduce,  [1.]  The 
restitution  of  all  things,  (v.  21.)  the  new  heavens, 
and  the  new  earth,  which  Avill  be  the  product  of  the 
dissolution  of  all  things,  (Rev.  21.  1.)  the  renovation 
of  the  Avhole  creation,  which  is  that  Avhich  it  grieves 
after,  as  its  present  burthen  under  the  sin  of  man  is 
that  Avhich  it  groans  under.  Some  understand  this 
of  a  state  on  this  side  the  end  of  time  ;  but  it  is  ra¬ 
ther  to  be  understood  of  that  end  of  all  th  ings,  which 
God  hath  spoken  of  by  the  mouth  of  all  his  holy 
prophets  since  the  world  began  ;  for  this  is  that 
Avhich  Enoch,  the  serventh  from  Adam,  prophesied 
of,  (Jude  14.)  and  the  temporal  judgments,  Avhich 
the  other  prophets  foi’etold,  were  typical  of  that 
which  the  apostle  calls  the  eternal  judgment.  This 
is  more  clearly  and  plainly  revealed  in  the  NeAv  Tes¬ 
tament  than  it  had  been  before,  and  all  that  receive 
the  gospel  have  an  expectation  of  it.  [2.]  With 
this  Avill  come  the  times  of  refreshing,  \v.  19.)  of 
consolation  to  the  Lord’s  people,  like  a  cool  shade  to 
those  that  have  borne  the  burthen  and  heat  of  the 
day.  All  Christians  look  for  a  rest  that  remains  for 
the  people  of  God,  after  the  travels  and  toils  of  their 
present  state,  and,  Avith  the  prospect  of  that,  they 
are  borne  up  under  their  present  sufferings,  and  car¬ 
ried  on  in  their  present  services.  The  refreshing 
that  then  comes  from  the  presence  of  the  Lord,  Avill 
continue  eternally  in  the  presence  of  the  Lord. 

2.  He  tells  them  Avhat  they  must  do. 

(1.)  They  must  repent,  must  bethink  themselves 
of  what  they  have  done  amiss,  must  return  to  their 
right  mind,  admit  a  second  thought,  and  submit  to 
the  convictions  of  it ;  they  must  begin  aneAv.  Peter, 
Avho  had  himself  denied  Christ,  repented,  and  he 
Avould  have  them  to  do  so  too. 

(2.)  They  must  be  converted,  must  face  about, 
and  direct  both  their  faces  and  steps  the  contrary 
Avay  to  Avhat  they  had  been  ;  they  must  return  to  the 
Lord  their  God,  from  Avhom  they  had  revolted.  It 
is  not  enough  to  repent  of  sin,  but  Ave  must  be  con¬ 
verted  from  it,  and  not  return  to  it  again.  They 
must  not  only  exchange  the  profession  of  Judaism  for 
that  of  Christianity,  but  the  poAver  and  dominion  of 
a  carnal,  Avorldly,  sensual,  mind,  for  that  of  holy, 
heavenly,  and  divine,  principles  and  affections. 

(3.)  They  must  hear  Christ,  the  great  Prophet  ; 
“ Him  shall  ye  hear  in  all  things  whatsoex’er  he  shall 
say  unto  you.  Attend  his  dictates,  receive  his  doc¬ 
trine,  submit  to  his  government.  Hear  him  Avith  a 
divine  faith,  as  prophets  should  be  heard,  that  come 
Avith  a  divine  commission.  Him  shall  ye  hear,  and 
to  him  you  shall  subscribe  Avith  an  implicit  faith  and 
obedience.  Hear  him  in  all  things ;  let  his  laws 
gOArern  all  your  actions,  and  his  counsels  determine 
all  your  submissions.  Whenever  he  has  a  mouth  to 
speak,  you  must  have  an  ear  to  hear.”  Whatever 
he  saith  to  us,  though  ever  so  displeasing  to  flesh 
and  blood,  bid  it  AA’elcome.  Speak,  Lord,  for  thy 
sei~vant  hears. 

A  good  reason  is  here  given  why  Ave  should  be 
observant  of,  and  obedient  to,  the  Avord  of  Christ ; 
for  it  is  at  our  peril  if  Ave  turn  a  deaf  ear  to  his  call, 
and  a  stiff  neck  to  his  yoke;  (r.  23.)  Every  soul 
which  will  not  hear  that  Prophet,  and  be  directed 
bv  Avhat  he  saith,  shall  be  destroyed  from  among 
the  people.  The  destruction  of  the  city  and  nation, 
by  war  and  famine,  Avas  threatened  for  slighting  the 
prophets  of  the  Old  Testament ;  but  the  destruction 
of  the  soul,  a  spiritual  and  eternal  destruction,  is 


34 


THE  ACTS,  111. 


threatened  for  slighting  Christ,  this  great  Prophet. 
They  that  will  not  be  advised  by  the  Saviour,  can 
expect  no  other  than  to  fall  into  the  hands  of  the 
destroyer . 

3.  He  tells  them  what  they  might  expect. 

(1.)  That  they  should  have  the  pardon  of  their 
sins  ;  this  is  always  spoken  of  as  the  great  privilege 
of  all  those  that  embrace  the  gospel ;  (v.  19. )  Re¬ 
pent,  and  be  converted,  that  your  sins  may  be  blotted 
out.  This  implies,  [1.]  That  the  remission  of  sin 
is  the  blotting  of  it  out,  as  a  cloud  is  blotted  out  by 
the  beams  of  the  sun,  (Isa.  44.  22. )  as  a  debt  is  crossed 
and  blotted  out ,  when  it  is  remitted.  It  intimates, 
that  when  God  forgives  sin,  he  remembers  it  no  more 
against  the  sinner ;  it  is  forgotten,  as  that  which  is 
blotted  out ;  all  the  bitter  things  written  against  the 
sinner,  (Job  13.  26.)  are  wiped  out  as  it  were  with 
a  spunge ;  it  is  the  cancelling  of  a  bond,  the  vacating 
of  a  judgment.  [2.]  We  cannot  expect  that  our 
sins  should  be  pardoned,  unless  we  repent  of  them, 
and  turn  from  them  to  God.  Though  Christ  has 
died  to  purchase  the  remission  of  sin,  yet,  that  we 
may  have  the  benefit  of  that  purchase  in  the  for¬ 
giveness  of  our  sins,  we  must  repent,  and  be  con¬ 
verted:  if  no  repentance,  no  remission.  [3.]  Hopes 
of  the  pardon  of  sin  upon  repentance  should  be  a 
powerful  inducement  to  us  to  repent.  Repent,  that 
your  sins  may  be  blotted  out :  and  that  repentance 
is  evangelical,  which  flows  from  an  apprehension  of 
the  mercy  of  God  in  Christ,  and  the  hopes  of  par¬ 
don.  This  was  the  first  and  great  argument,  Repent, 
for  the  kingdom •  of  heaven  is  at  hand.  [4.]  The 
most  comfortable  fruit  of  the  forgiveness  of  our  sins 
will  be  when  the  times  of  refreshing  shall  come  ;  if 
our  sins  be  forgiven  us,  we  have  now  reason  to  be 
of  good  cheer ;  but  the  comfort  will  be  complete, 
when  the  pardon  shall  be  allowed  in  open  court,  and 
our  justification  published  before  angels  and  men; 
when,  whom  he  justified,  them  he  glorifies,  Rom.  8. 
30.  As  now  we  are  the  sons  of  God,  (1  John  3.  2.) 
so  now  we  have  our  sins  blotted  out ;  but  it  doth  not 
yet  appear  what  are  the  blessed  fruits  of  it,  till  the 
times  of  refreshing  shall  come.  During  these  times 
of  toil  and  conflict,  (doubts  and  fears  within,  trou¬ 
bles  and  dangers  without,)  we  cannot  have  that  full 
satisfaction  of  our  pardon,  and  in  it,  that  we  shall 
have  when  the  refreshing  times  come,  which  shall 
wipe  away  all  tears. 

(2. )  That  they  should  have  the  comfort  of  Christ’s 
coming,  (v.  20,  21. )  “  He  shall  send  Jesus  Christ,  the 
same  Jesus,  the  very  same  which  before  was  preached 
unto  you  ;  for  you  must  not  expect  another  dispen¬ 
sation,  another  gospel,  but  the  continuance  and  com¬ 
pletion  of  this ;  you  must  not  expect  another  pro¬ 
phet  like  unto  Jesus,  as  Moses  bid  you  expect  another 
like  unto  him  ;  for  though  the  heavens  must  receive 
him  till  the  times  of  the  restitution  of  all  things,  yet, 
if  you  repent  and  be  converted,  you  shall  find  no  want 
of  him  ;  some  way  or  other  he  shall  be  seen  to  you.” 

[1.]  We  must  not  expect  Christ’s  personal  pre¬ 
sence  with  us  in  this  world  ;  for  the  heavens,  which 
received  him  out  of  the  sight  of  the  disciples,  must 
retain  him  till  the  end  of  time.  To  that  seat  of  the 
blessed  his  bodily  presence  is  confined,  and  will  be  to 
the  end  of  time,  the  accomplishment  of  all  things  ; 
so  it  may  be  read  :  and  therefore  those  dishonour 
him,  and  deceive  themselves,  who  dream  of  his  cor¬ 
poral  presence  in  the  eucharist.  It  is  agreeable  to 
a  state  of  trial  and  probation,  that  the  glorified  Re¬ 
deemer  should  be  out  of  sight,  because  we  must  live 
by  that  faith  in  him,  which  is  the  evidence  of  things 
not  seen  ;  because  he  must  be  believed  on  in  the 
world,  he  must  be  received  up  into  glory.  Dr.  Ham¬ 
mond  reads  it,  Who  must  receive  the  heavens,  that 
is,  who  must  receive  the  glory  and  power  of  the 
upper  world ;  he  must  reiyn  till  all  be  made  subject 
.to  him,  1  Cor.  15.  25.  Ps.  75.  2. 


[2.]  Yet  it  is  promised  that  he  shall  be  sent  to  all 
that  repent,  and  are  converted  ;  ( v .  20.)  “He  shall 
send  Jesus  Christ,  who  was  preached  to  you  by  his 
disciples,  both  before  and  since  his  resurrection,  and 
is,  and  will  be,  all  in  all  to  them.”  First,  “You 
shall  have  his  spiritual  presence ;  he  that  is  sent 
into  the  world,  shall  be  sent  to  you  ;  you  shall  have 
the  comfort  of  his  being  sent ;  he  shall  be  sent  among 
you  in  his  gospel,  which  shall  be  his  tabernacle,  his 
chariot  of  war.”  Secondly,  “He  shall  send  Jesus 
Christ  to  destroy  Jerusalem,  and  the  nation  of  unbe¬ 
lieving  Jews,  that  are  enemies  to  Christ  and  Christi¬ 
anity,  and  to  deliver  his  ministers  and  people  from 
them,  and  give  them  a  quiet  profession  of  the  gos¬ 
pel,  and  that  shall  be  a  time  of  refreshing,  which 
you  shall  share  in.”  Then  had  the  churches  rest ; 
so  Dr.  Hammond.  Thirdly,  “The  sending  of  Christ 
to  judge  the  world,  at  the  end  of  time,  will  be  a 
blessing  to  you  ;  you  shall  then  lift  up  your  heads 
with  joy,  knowing  that  your  redemption  draws 
nigh.  It  seems  to  refer  to  this,  for  till  then  the 
heavens  must  receive  him,  v.  21.  As  God’s  counsels 
from  eternity,  so  his  predictions  from  the  beginning 
of  time,  had  a  reference  to  the  transactions  of  the 
last  day,  when  the  mystery  of  God  shall  be  finished, 
as  he  had  declared  to  his  seri’ants  the  prophets,  Rev. 
10.  7.  The  institution  of  all  things  in  the  church, 
had  an  eye  to  the  restitution  of  all  things  at  the  end 
of  time. 

4.  He  tells  them  what  ground  they  had  to  ex¬ 
pect  these  things,  if  they  were  converted  to  Christ. 
Though  they  had  denied  him,  and  put  him  to 
death,  yet  they  might  hope  to  find  favour  through 
him,  upon  the  account  of  their  being  Israelites. 
For, 

(1.)  As  Israelites,  they  had  the  monopoly  of  the 
grace  of  the  Old  Testament,  they  were,  above  any 
other,  God’s  favourite  nation,  and  the  favours  God 
bestow'ed  upon  them  were  such  as  had  a  reference 
to  the  Messiah,  and  his  kingdom  ;  Ye  are  the  chil¬ 
dren  of  the  prophets,  and  of  the  covenant.  A  double 
privilege  ! 

[1.]  They  were  the  children,  that  is,  the  disciples, 
of  the  prophets,  as  children  at  school ;  not  sons  of 
the  prophets,  in  the  sense  that  we  read  of  such  in  the 
Old  Testament,  from  Samuel  and  downward,  who 
were,  or  are,  trained  up  to  be  endued  with  the  spirit 
of  prophecy ;  but  you  are  of  that  people,  from  among 
whom  prophets  were  raised  up,  and  to  whom  pro¬ 
phets  were  sent.  It  is  spoken  of  as  a  great  favour 
to  Israel,  that  God  raised  up  of  their  sons  for  pro¬ 
phets,  Amos  2.  11.  All  the  inspired  writers,  both 
of  the  Old  and  New  Testament,  were  of  the  seed  of 
Abraham  ;  and  it  was  their  honour  and  advantage, 
that  unto  them  were  committed  the  oracles  of  God, 
Rom.  3.  2.  Their  government  was  constituted  by 
prophecy,  that  is,  by  divine  revelation  :  and  by  it  their 
affairs  were  for  many  ages  very  much  managed.  See 
Hos.  12.  13.  By  a  prophet  the  Lord  brought  Israel 
out  of  Egypt,  and  by  a  prophet  was  he  preserved. 
Those  of  the  latter  ages  of  the  church,  when  pro¬ 
phecy  had  ceased,  might  yet  be  fitly  called  the  chil¬ 
dren  of  the  prophets,  because  they  heard,  though  they 
did  not  know,  the  voices  of  the  prophets,  which  were 
read  in  their  synagogues  ex’eru  sabbath-day ,  Acts  13. 
27.  Now  this  should  quicken  them  to  embrace  Christ, 
and  they  might  hope  to  be  accepted  of  him  ;  for  their 
own  prophets  had  foretold,  that  this  grace  should  be 
brought  unto  them  at  the  revelation  of  Jesus  Christ, 
(1  Pet.  1.  13.)  and  therefore  ought  not  to  be  neglect¬ 
ed  by  them,  nor  should  be  denied  to  them.  Those 
that  are  blessed  with  prophets  and  prophecy,  (as  all 
are,  that  have  the  scriptures, )  are  concerned  not  to 
receive  the  grace  of  God  therein  in  vain.  We  mav 
apply  it  particularly  to  ministers’  children,  who,  if 
they  plead  that  effectually  with  themselves,  as  an 
inducement  to  be  faithful  and  forward  in  religion, 


35 


THE  ACTS,  IV. 


may  comfortably  plead  it  with  God,  and  hope  that 
the  children  of  God's  serx’ants  shall  continue. 

[2.]  They  were  the  children,  that  is,  the  heirs, 
of  the  covenant  which  God  made  with  our  fathers , 
as  children  in  the  family.  God’s  covenant  was  made 
with  Abraham  and  his  seed,  and  they  were  that  seed 
with  whom  the  covenant  was  made,  and  on  whom 
the  blessings  of  the  covenant  were  entailed;  “The 
promise  of  the  Messiah  was  made  to  you,  and  there¬ 
fore  if  you  forsake  not  your  own  mercies,  and  do  not 
by  an  obstinate  infidelity  put  a  bar  in  your  own  door, 
you  may  hope  it  shall  be  made  good  to  you.”  That 
promise  here  mentioned,  as  the  principal  article  of 
the  covenant.  In  thy  seed  shall  all  the  kindreds  of 
the  earth  be  blessed,  though  referring  principally  to 
Christ,  (Gal.  3.  16.)  yet  may  include  the  church 
also,  which  is  his  body,  all  believers,  that  are  the 
spiritual  seed  of  Abraham.  All  the  kindreds  of  the 
earth  were  blessed  in  having  a  church  for  Christ 
among  them  ;  and  those  that  were  the  seed  of  Abra¬ 
ham  according  to  the  flesh,  stood  fairest  for  this  pri¬ 
vilege.  If  all  the  kindreds  of  the  earth  were  to  be 
blessed  in  Christ,  much  more  that  kindred,  his  kins¬ 
men  according  to  the  flesh. 

(2.)  As  Israelites,  they  had  the  first  offer  of  the 
grace  of  the  New  Testament  Because  they  were 
the  children  of  the  prophets  and  the  covenant,  there¬ 
fore  to  them  the  Redeemer  was  first  sent;  which 
was  an  encouragement  to  them  to  hope  that  if  they 
did  repent,  and  were  converted,  he  should  be  yet 
further  sent  for  their  comfort;  (y.  20.)  “  He  shall 
send  Jesus  Christ,  for  to  you  first  he  hath  sent  him, 
v.  26.  Unto  you  first,  you  Jew’s,  though  not  to  you 
only,  God,  having  raised  up  his  Son  Jesus,  appointed 
and  authorized  him  to  be  a  Prince  and  a  Saviour, 
and,  in  confirmation  of  that,  raised  him  from  the 
dead,  sent  him  to  bless  you,  to  make  a  tender  of  his 
blessing  to  you,  especially  that  great  blessing  of 
turning  every  one  of  you  from  his  iniquities ;  and 
therefore  it  concerns  you  to  receive  this  blessing,  and 
turn  from  your  iniquities,  and  you  may  be  encour¬ 
aged  to  hope  that  you  shall.” 

.[!•]  We  are  here  told  whence  Christ  had  his  mis¬ 
sion  ;  God  raised  up  his  son  Jesus,  and  sent  him. 
God  raised  him  up,  when  he  constituted  him  a  Pro¬ 
phet,  owaied  him  hy  a  voice  from  heaven  ;  and  filled 
him  with  his  Spirit  without  measure,  and  then  sent 
him  ;  for  to  that  end  he  raised  him  up,  that  he  might 
be  his  Commissioner  to  treat  of  peace.  He  sent  him 
to  bear  witness  of  the  truth,  sent  him  to  seek  and  save 
lost  souls,  sent  him  against  his  enemies,  to  conquer 
them.  Some  refer  the  raising  of  him  up,  to  the  re¬ 
surrection,  which  was  the  first  step  toward  his  ex¬ 
altation  ;  that  was,  as  it  were,  the  renewing  of  his 
commission  ;  and  though,  having  raised  him  up,  he 
seemed  presently  to  take  him  from  us,  yet  he  did 
really  send  him  afresh  to  us  in  his  gospel  and  Spirit. 

[2.]  To  whom  he  was  sent;  “  Unto  you  first. 
You  of  the  seed  of  Abraham,  you  that  are  the  chil¬ 
dren  of  the  prophets,  and  of  the  covenant,  to  you  is 
the  tender  made  of  gospei-grace.  ”  The  personal 
ministry  of  Christ,  as  that  of  the  prophets,  was  con¬ 
fined  to  the  Jews;  he  was  not  then  sent,  but  to  the 
lost  sheep  of  the  house  of  Israel,  and  he  forbade  the 
disciples  he  then  sent  forth,  to  go  any  further.  After 
his  resurrection,  he  was  to  be  preached  indeed  to 
all  nations,  but  they  must  begin  at  Jerusalem,  Luke 
24.  47.  And  when  they  went  to  other  nations,  they 
first  preached  to  the  Jews  they  found  therein. 
They  were  the  first-born,  and,  as  such,  had  the 
privilege  of  the  first  offer.  So  far  were  they  from 
being  excluded  for  their  putting  of  Christ  to  death, 
that,  when  he  is  risen,  he  is  first  sent  to  them,  and 
they  are  primarily  intended  to  have  benefit  by  his 
death. 

[3.]  On  what  errand  he  was  sent ;  “  He  is  sent  to 
you  first  to  bless  you,  that  is  his  primary  errand,  not 


to  condemn  you,  as  you  deserve,  but  to  justify  you, 
if  you  will  accept  of  the  justification  offered  you,  in 
the  way  wherein  it  is  offered;  but  he  that  sends  him 
first  to  bless  you,  if  you  refuse  and  reject  that  bless¬ 
ing,  will  send  him  to  curse  you  with  a  curse."  Mai. 
4.  6.  Note,  First,  Christ’s  errand  into  the  world 
was  to  bless  us,  to  bring  a  blessing  with  him,  for  the 
Sun  of  righteousness  rose  with  healing  under  his 
wings  ;  and  when  He  left  the  world,  he  left  a  blessing 
behind  him,  for  he  was  parted  from  the  disciples  as 
he  blessed  them,  Luke  24.  51.  He  sent  his  Spirit  to 
be  the  great  Blessing,  the  Blessing  of  blessings, 
Isa.  44.  3.  It  is  by  Christ  that  God  sends  blessings 
to  us,  and  through  him  only  we  can  expect  to  re¬ 
ceive  them.  Secondly,  The  great  blessing  where¬ 
with  Christ  came  to  bless  us,  was,  the  turning  of 
us  away  from  our  iniquities,  the  saving  of  us  from 
our  sins,  (Matt.  1.  21.)  to  turn  us  from  sin,  that  we 
may  be  qualified  to  receive  all  other  blessings ;  sin 
is  that  which  naturally  we  cleave  to,  the  desigi)  of 
divine  grace  is  to  turn  us  from  it,  nay,  to  turn  us 
against  it,  that  we  may  not  only  forsake  it,  but  hate 
it ;  the  gospel  has  a  direct  tendency  to  it,  not  only  as 
it  requires  us,  every  one  of  us,  to  turn  from  our 
iniquities,  but  as  it  promises  us  grace  to  enable  us 
to  do  so.  “  Therefore,  do  your  part  ;  repent,  and 
be  converted,  because  Christ  is  ready  to  do  his,  in 
turning  you  from  your  iniquities,  and  so  blessing 
you.  ” 

CHAP.  IV. 

in  going  over  the  two  last  chapters,  where  we  met  with  so 
many  good  things  that  the  apostles  did,  I  wondered  what 
was  become  of  the  Scribes  and  Pharisees,  and  chief  priests, 
that  they  did  not  appear  to  contradict  and  oppose  them,  as 
they  had  used  to  treat  Christ  himself ;  surely  they  were  so 
confounded  at  first  with  the  pouring  out  of  the  Spirit,  that 
they  were  for  a  time  struck  dumb  !  But  I  find  we  have  not 
lost  them,  their  forces  rally  again,  and  here  we  have  an 
encounter  -between  them  and  the  apostles ;  for  from  the 
beginning  the  gospel  met  with  opposition.  Here,  I.  Peter 
and  John  are  taken  up,  upon  a  warrant  from  the  priests, 
and  committed  to  jail,  v.  1 . .  4.  II.  They  are  examined  by 
a  committee  of  the  great  Sanhedrim,  v.  5  . .  7.  III.  They 
bravely  avow  what  they  have  done,  and  preach  Christ  to 
their  persecutors,  v.  8  . .  12.  IV.  Their  persecutors,  being 
unable  to  answer  them,  enjoin  them  silence,  threaten  them 
if  they  go  on  to  preach  the  gospel,  and  so  dismiss  them,  v. 
13. .  22.  V.  They  applv  themselves  to  God  by  prayer,  for 
the  further  operations  of  that  grace  which  they"  had  already 
experienced,  v.  23  . .  30.  VI.  God  owns  them,  both  out¬ 
wardly  and  inwardly,  bv  manifest  tokens  of  his  presence 
with  them,  v.  31 . .  33.  Vll.  The  believers  had  their  hearts 
knit  together  in  holy  love,  and  enlarged  their  charity  to  the 
poor,  and  the  church  flourished  more  than  ever,  to  the  glory 
of  Christ,  v.  33 . .  S7. 

1.  A  ND  as  they  spake  unto  the  people, 
the  priests,  and  the  captain  of  the 
temple,  and  the  Sadducees,  came  upon 
them  ;  2.  Being  grieved  that  they  taught 

the  people,  and  preached  through  Jesus  the 
resurrection  from  the  dead.  3.  And  they 
laid  hands  on  them,  and  put  them  in  hold 
unto  the  next  day :  for  it  was  now  even¬ 
tide.  4.  Howbeit  many  of  them  which 
heard  the  word  believed  ;  and  the  number 
of  the  men  was  about  five  thousand. 

We  have  here  the  interests  of  the  kingdom  of 
heaven  successfully  carried  on,  and  the  powers  ff 
darkness  appearing  against  them  to  put  a  stop  to 
them.  Let  Christ’s  servants  be  ever  so  resolute, 
Satan’s  agents  will  be  spiteful ;  and  therefore,  let 
Satan’s  agents  be  ever  so  spiteful,  Christ’s  servants 
ought  to  be  resolute. 

I.  The  apostles,  Peter  and  John,  went  on  in  their 
work,  and  did  not  labour  in  vain.  The  Spirit  ena- 


THE  ACTS,  IV. 


bled  the  ministers  to  do  their  part,  and  the  people 
their’s. 

1.  The  preachers  faithfully  delivered  the  doctrine 
of  Christ ;  They  sfiake  unto  the  people,  to  all  that 
were  within  hearing,  v.  1.  What  they  said,  con¬ 
cerned  them  all,  and  they  spake  it  openly  and  pub¬ 
licly.  They  taught  the  people,  still  taught  the  peo- 
filc  knowledge  ;  taught  those  that  as  yet  did  not  be¬ 
lieve,  for  their  conviction  and  conversion  ;  and 
taught  those  that  did  believe,  for  their  comfort  and 
establishment.  They  preached  through  Jesus  the 
resurrection  from  the  dead.  This  doctrine  of  the 
resurrection  of  the  2. ad,  (1.)  Was  verified  in  Jesus; 
this  they  proved,  that  Jesus  Christ  was  risen  from 
the  deaf  was  the  First,  the  Chief,  that  should  rise 
from  the  dead,  ch.  26.  23.  They  preached  the  re¬ 
surrection  of  Christ,  as  their  warrant  for  what  they 
did.  Or,  (2.)  It  is  secured  by  him  to  all  believers. 
The  resurrection  of  the  dead  includes  all  the  happi¬ 
ness  of  the  future  state  ;  this  they  preached  through 
Jesus  Christ,  attainable  through  him,  (Phil.  3.  10, 
11.)  and  through  him  only.  They  meddled  not  with 
matters  of  state,  but  kept  to  their  business,  and 
preached  to  people  heaven  as  their  end,  and  Christ 
as  their  Way.  See  ch.  17.  18. 

2.  The  hearers  cheerfully  receive  it;  ( v .  4.) 
Many  of  them  which  heard  the  word,  believed ;  not 
all,  perhaps  not  the  most,  yet  many,  to  the  number 
of  about  Jive  thousand,  over  and  above  the  three 
thousand  we  read  of  before.  See  how  the  gospel 
got  ground,  and  it  was  the  effect  of  the  pouring  out 
of  the  Spirit !  Though  the  preachers  were  persecut¬ 
ed,  the  word  prevailed  ;  for  sometimes  the  church’s 
suffering  days  have  been  her  growing  days ;  the 
days  of  her  infancy  were  so. 

II.  The  chief  priests  and  their  party  now  made 
head  against  them,  and  did  what  they  could  to 
crush  them  ;  their  hands  were  tied  a  while,  but  their 
hearts  were  not  in  the  least  changed.  Now  here 
observe,  * 

1.  Who  they  were,  that  appeared  against  the 
apostles;  they  "were  Me  priests ;  you  may  be  sure, 
in  the  first  place,  they  were  always  sworn  enemies 
to  Christ  and  his  gospel  ;  they  were  as  jealous  for 
their  priesthood  as  Caesar  for  his  monarchy,  and 
would  not  bear  one  they  thought  their  rival,  now 
when  he  was  preached  as  a  Priest,  as  much  as  when 
he  did  preach  as  a  Prophet.  With  them  joined  the 
captain  of  the  temple,  who,  it  is  supposed,  was  a 
Roman  officer,  governor  of  the  garrison  that  was 
placed  in  the  tower  of  Antonia,  for  the  guard  of  the 
temple:  so  that  still  here  were  both  Jews  and  Gen¬ 
tiles  confederate  against  Christ.  The  Sadducees 
also  were  zealous  against  them,  who  denied  the  being 
of  spirits  and  the  future  state.  “  One  would  wonder 
(saith  Mr.  Baxter)  what  should  make  such  brutists, 
as  the  Sadducees  were,  to  be  such  furious  silencers 
and  persecutors.  If  there  is  no  life  to  come,  what 
harm  can  other  men’s  hopes  of  it  do  them  ?  But  in 
depraved  souls  all  faculties  axe  vitiated.  A  blind 
mind  has  a  malignant  heart  and  a  cruel  hand,  to  this 
day.” 

2.  How  they  stood  affected  to  the  apostles’ preach¬ 
ing  ;  They  were  grieved  that  they  taught  the  people, 
x>.  2.  It  grieved  them,  both  that  the  gospel-doc¬ 
trine  was  preached,  (was  so  preached,  so  publicly, 
so  boldly,)  and  that  the  people  were  so  ready  to  hear 
it.  They  thought,  when  they  had  put  Christ  to  such 
an  ignominious  death,  his  disciples  would  ever  after 
be  ashamed  and  afraid  to  own  him,  and  the  people 
would  have  invincible  prejudices  against  his  doc¬ 
trine  ;  and  now  it  vexed  them  to  see  themselves  dis¬ 
appointed,  and  that  his  gospel  gets  ground,  instead 
of  losing  it.  The  wicked  shall  see  it,  and  be  grieved, 
Ps.  112.  10.  They  were  grieved  at  that  which 
they  should  have  rejoiced  in,  at  that  which  an¬ 
gels  reioice  in.  Miserable  is  their  case,  to  whom 


the  glory  of  Christ’s  kingdom  is  a  grief ;  for  since 
the  glory  of  that  kingdom  is  everlasting,  it  follows 
of  course,  that  their  grief  will  be  everlasting  too.  It 
grieved  them  that  the  apostles  preached  through 
Jesus  the  resurrection  from  the  dead.  The  Saclau- 
cees  were  grieved  that  the  resurrection  from  the 
dead  was  preached  ;  for  they  opposed  that  doctrine, 
and  could  not  bear  to  hear  of  a.  future  state,  to  hear 
it  so  well  attested.  The  chief  priests  were  grieved 
that  they  preached  the  resurrection  of  the  dead 
through  Jesus,  that  he  should  have  the  honour  of 
it ;  and  though  they  professed  to  believe  the  resur¬ 
rection  of  the  dead  against  the  Sadducees,  yet  they 
would  rather  give  up  that  important  article  than 
have  it  preached  and  proved  to  be  through  Jesus. 

3.  How  far  they  proceeded  against  the  apostles ; 
(v.  3. )  They  laid  hands  on  them,  (that  is,  their  ser¬ 
vants  and  officers  did  at  their  command,)  and  put 
them  in  hold,  committed  them  to  the  custody  of  the 
proper  officer  until  the  next  day  ;  they  could  not 
examine  them  now,  for  it  was  even-tide,  and  yet 
would  defer  it  no  longer  than  till  next  day.  See  how 
God  trains  up  his  servants  for  sufferings  by  degrees, 
and  by  lesser  trials  prepares  them  for  greater  ;  now 
they  resist  unto  bonds  only,  but  afterward  to  blood. 

5.  And  it  came  to  pass  on  the  monpw, 
that  their  rulers,  and  elders,  and  scribes, 
6.  And  Annas  the  High-Priest,  and  Caia- 
phas,  and  John,  and  Alexander,  and  as 
many  as  were  of  the  kindred  of  the  High- 
Priest,  were  gathered  together  at  Jerusa¬ 
lem.  7.  And  when  they  .had  set  them  in 
the  midst,  they  asked,  By  what  power,  or 
by  what  name,  have  ye  done  this  ?  8.  Then 
Peter,  filled  with  the  Holy  Ghost,  said  unto 
them,  Ye  rulers  of  the  people,  and  elders 
of  Israel,  9.  If  we  this  day  be  examined 
of  the  good  deed  done  to  the  impotent  man, 
by  what  means  he  is  made  whole  ;  1 0.  Be 
it  known  unto  you  all,  and  to  all  the  peo¬ 
ple  of  Israel,  that  by  the  name  of  Jesus 
Christ  of  Nazareth,  whom  ye  crucified, 
whom  God  raised  from  the  dead,  even  by 
him  doth  this  man  stand  here  before  you 
whole.  1 1 .  This  is  the  stone  which  was 
set  at  nought  of  you  builders,  which  is  be¬ 
come  the  head  of  the  corner.  12.  Neither 
is  there  salvation  in  any  other  :  for  there  is 
no  other  name  under  heaven  given  among 
men  whereby  we  must  be  saved.  13.  Now 
when  they  saw  the  boldness  of  Peter  and 
John,  and  perceived  that  they  were  un¬ 
learned  and  ignorant  men,  t hey  marvelled  ; 
and  they  took  knowledge  of  them,  that  they 
had  been  with  Jesus.  14.  And  beholding 
the  man  which  was  healed  standing  with 
them,  they  could  say  nothing  against  it. 

We  have  here  the  trial  of  Peter  and  John  before 
the  judges  of  the  ecclesiastical  court,  for  preaching 
a  sermon  concerning  Jesus  Christ,  and  working  a 
miracle  in  his  name.  This  is  charged  upon  them  as 
a  crime,  which  was  the  best  service  they  could  do 
to  God  or  men. 

I.  Here  is  the  court  set ;  an  extraordinary  court, 
it  should  seem,  was  called  on  purpose  upon  this  oc¬ 
casion.  Observe, 

i  1.  The  time  when  the  court  sat,  (x».  5.)  on  the 


3? 


THE  ACTS,  IV. 


morrow  ;  not  in  the  night,  as  when  Christ  was  to 
be  tried  before  them,  for  they  seem  not  to  have 
been  so  hot  upon  this  prosecution  as  they  were  upon 
that ;  it  was  well  if  they  began  to  relent.  But  they 
adjourned  it  to  the  morrow,  and  no  longer ;  for  they 
were  impatient  to  get  them  silenced,  and  would  lose 
no  time. 

2.  The  place  where — in  Jerusalem  ;  (v.  6.)  there 
it  was  that  he  told  his  disciples  they  must  expect  to 
suffer  hard  things,  as  he  had  done  before  them  in 
that  place.  This  seems  to  come  in  here  as  an  ag¬ 
gravation  of  their  sin,  that  in  Jerusalem,  where 
there  were  so  many  that  looked  for  redemption  be¬ 
fore  it  came,  yet  there  were  more  that  would  not 
look  upon  it  when  it  did  come.  How  is  that  faith¬ 
ful  city  become  a  harlot  !  See  Matt.  23.  37.  It  was 
in  the  foresight  of  Jerusalem’s  standing  in  her  own 
light,  that  Christ  beheld  the  city,  and  wept  over  it. 

3.  The  judges  of  the  court.  (1.)  Their  general 
character  ;  they  were  rulers,  elders,  and  Scribes,  v. 
5.  The  Scribes  were  men  of  learning,  who  came  to 
dispute  with  the  apostles,  and  hoped  to  confute 
them.  The  rulers  and  elders  were  men  in  power, 
who,  if  they  could  not  answer  them,  thought  they 
could  find  some  cause  or  other  to  silence  them.  If 
the  gospel  of  Christ  had  not  been  of  God,  it  could 
not  have  made  its  wTay,  for  it  had  both  the  learning 
and  power  of  the  world  against  it,  both  the  colleges 
of  the  Scribes  and  the  courts  of  the  elders.  (2.) 
The  names  of  some  of  them  who  were  most  consi¬ 
derable.  Here  were  Annas  and  Caiaphas,  ring¬ 
leaders  in  this  persecution  ;  Annas,  the  president  of 
the  Sanhedrim,  and  Caiaphas,  the  High-Priest, 
(though  Annas  is  here  called  so,)  and  father  of  the 
house  of  judgment.  It  should  seem  that  Annas  and 
Caiaphas  executed  the  High-Priest’s  office  alter¬ 
nately,  year  for  year  ;  they  two  were  most  active 
against  Christ ;  then  Caiaphas  was  High-Priest,  now 
Annas  was  ;  however,  they  were  both  equally  ma¬ 
lignant  against  Christ  and  his  gospel.  John  is  sup¬ 
posed  to  be  the  son  of  Annas  ;  and  Alexander  is 
mentioned  by  Josephus,  as  a  man  that  made  a  figure 
at  that  time.  There  were  others  likewise  that  were 
of  the  kindred  of  the  High-Priest,  who,  having  de- 

endence  on  him,  and  expectations  from  him,  would 

e  sure  to  say  as  he  said,  and  vote  with  him  against 
the  apostles.  Great  relations,  and  not  good,  have 
been  a  snare  to  many. 

II.  The  prisoners  are  arraigned,  v.  7. 

1.  They  are  brought  to  the  bar;  they  set  them  in 
the  midst,  for  the  Sanhedrim  sat  in  a  circle,  and  they 
who  had  anv  thing  to  do  in  the  court,  stood  or  sat  in 
the  midst  of  them  ;  (Luke  2.  46.)  so  Dr.  Lightfoot. 
Thus  the  scripture  was  fulfilled,  The  assembly  of 
the  wicked  has  enclosed  me,  Ps.  22.  16.  They  com¬ 
passed  me  about  like  bees,  Ps.  118.  12.  They  were 
seated  on  every  side. 

2.  The  question  they  asked  them,  was,  “  By  what 
power ,  or  by  what  name,  have  ye  done  this?  By 
what  authority  do  ye  these  things  ?”  (The  same 
question  that  they  had  asked  their  Master,  Matt. 
21.  23.)  “Who  commissioned  you  to  preach  such 
a  doctrine  as  this,  and  empowered  you  to  work  such 
a  miracle  as  this  ?  You  have  no  warrant  or  license 
from  us,  and  therefore  are  accountable  to  us  whence 
you  have  your  warrant.”  Some  think  this  question 
was  grounded  upon  a  fond  conceit  that  the  very 
naming  of  some  names  might  do  wonders,  as  ch.  19. 
13.  The  Jewish  exorcists  made  use  of  the  name  of 
Jesus.  Now  they  would  know  what  name  they  made 
use  of  in  their  cure,  and  consequently,  what  name 
they  set  themselves  to  advance  in  their  preaching. 
They  knew  very  well  that  they  preached  Jesus,  and 
the  resurrection  of  the  dead,  and  the  healing  of  the 
sick,  through  Jesus  ;  (v.  2.)  yet  they  ask  them,  to 
tease  them,  and  try  if  they  could  get  any  thing  out  of 
them  that  looked  criminal. 


III.  The  plea  they  put  in,  the  design  of  which  was 
not  so  much  to  clear  and  secure  themselves  as  to  ad¬ 
vance  the  name  and  honour  of  their  Master,  who 
had  told  them  that  their  being  brought  before  go¬ 
vernors  and  kings  would  give  them  an  opportunity 
of  preaching  the  gospel  to  those  whom  otherwise 
they  could  not  have  had  access  to,  and  it  should  be 
a  testimony  against  them.  Mark  13.  9.  Observe, 

1.  By  whom  this  plea  was  drawn  up  ;  it  was  dic¬ 
tated  by  the  Holy  Ghost,  who  fitted  Peter  more  than 
before  for  this  occasion.  The  apostles,  with  a  holy 
negligence  of  their  own  preservation,  set  themselves 
to  preach  Christ,  as  he  had  directed  them  to  do  in 
such  a  case,  and  then  Christ  made  good  to  them  his 
promise,  that  the  Holy  Ghost  should  give  them  in 
that  same  hour  what  they  should  speak.  Christ’s 
faithful  advocates  shall  never  want  instructions, 
Mark  13.  11. 

2.  To  whom  it  was  given  in  ;  Peter,  who  is  still 
the  chief  speaker,  addresses  himself  to  the  judges 
of  the  court,  as  the  rulers  of  the  people  and  elders 
of  Israel ;  for  the  wickedness  of  those  in  power  dees 
not  divest  them  of  their  power,  but  the  consideration 
of  the  pov'er  they  are  intrusted  with,  should  prevail 
to  divest  them  of  their  wickedness.  “You  are  rulers 
and  elders,  and  should  know  more  than  others  of 
the  signs  of  the  times,  and  not  oppose  that  which 
you  are  bound  by  the  duty  of  your  place  to  embrace 
and  advance,  that  is,  the  kingdom  of  the  Messiah  ; 
you  are  rulers  and  elders  of  Israel,  God’s  people, 
and  if  you  mislead  them,  and  cause  them  to  err,  you 
will  have  a  great  deal  to  answer  for.” 

3.  What  the  plea  is  ;  it  is  a  solemn  declaration. 

(1.)  That  what  they  did  was  in  the  name  of  Jesus 

Christ,  which  was  a  direct  answer  to  the  question 
the  court  asked  them  ;  (v.  9,  10.)  “  If  we  this  day 
be  examined,  be  called  to  an  account  as  criminals, 
so  the  word  signifies,  for  a  good  deed  (as  any  one 
will  own  it  to  be)  done  to  the  impotent  man,  if  this 
be  the  ground  of  the  commitment,  this  the  matter 
of  the  indictment,  if  we  are  put  to  the  question,  by 
what  means,  or  by  whom,  he  is  made  whole ;  we 
have  an  answer  ready,  and  it  is  the  same  we  gave  to 
the  people,  (ch.  3.  16.)  we  will  repeat  it  to  you,  as 
that  which  we  will  stand  by,  Be  it  known  to  you  all 
who  pretend  to  be  ignorant  of  this  matter,  and  not 
to  you  only,  but  to  all  the  people  of  Israel,  for  thev 
are  all  concerned  to  know  it,  that  by  the  name  of 
Jesus  Christ,  that  precious,  powerful,  prevailing 
name,  that  name  above  every  name,  even  by  him 
whom  you  in  contempt  called  Jesus  of  Aazareth, 
whom  vou  crucified,  both  rulers  and  people,  and 
whom  God  hath  raised  from  the  dead,  and  advanced 
to  the  highest  dignity  and  dominion,  even  by  him 
doth  this  man  stand  here  before  you  whole  ;  a  mo¬ 
nument  of  the  power  of  the  Lord  Jesus.”  Here, 

[1.]  He  justifies  what  he  and  his  colleague  had 
done  in  curing  the  lame  man  ;  it  was  a  good  deed  ; 
it  was  a  kindness  to  the  man  that  had  begged,  but 
could  not  work  for  his  living ;  a  kindness  to  the 
temple,  and  to  them  that  went  in  to  worship,  who 
were  now  freed  from  the  noise  and  clamour  of  that 
common  beggar.  “Now  if  we  be  reckoned  with 
for  this  good  deed,  we  have  no  reason  to  be  asham¬ 
ed,  1  Pet.  2.  20.  ch.  4.  14,  16.  Let  them  be  ashamed, 
who  bring  us  into  trouble  for  it.  ”  Note,  It  is  no  new 
thing  for  good  men  to  suffer  ill  for  doing  well.  Bene 
agere  &  male  pafi  vere  christianum  est — To  do  well 
and  to  suffer  punishment  is  the  Christian's  lot. 

[2.]  He  transfers  all  the  praise  and  glory  of  that 
good  deed  to  Jesus  Christ.  “  It  is  by  him,  and  not  by 
any  power  of  our’s,  that  this  man  is  cured.”  He 
seeks  not  to  raise  an  interest  for  themselves,  or  to 
recommend  themselves  by  it  to  the  good  opinion  of 
the  court  ;  but,  “  Let  the  Lord  alone  be  exalted,  no 
matter  what  comes  of  us.” 

[3.]  He  charges  it  upon  the  judges  themselves, 


38 


THE  ACTS,  IV. 


that  they  had  been  the  ihurderers  of  this  Jesus ;  “It 
is  he  whom  ye  crucified, ,  look  how  you  will  answer 
it in  order  to  the  bringing  of  them  to  believe  in 
Christ,  (for  he  aims  at  no  less  than  that, )  he  en¬ 
deavours  to  convince  them  of  sin,  of  that  sin  which, 
one  would  think,  of  all  others,  was  most  likely  to 
startle  conscience — their  putting  Christ  to  death. 
Let  them  take  it  how  they  will,  Peter  will  miss  no 
occasion  to  tell  them  of  it. 

[4.  ]  He  attests  the  resurrection  of  Christ  as  the 
strongest  testimony  for  him,  and  against  his  perse¬ 
cutors  ;  “  They  crucified  him,  but  God  raised  him 
from  the  dead.,  they  took  away  his  life,  but  God 
gave  it  him  again,  and  your  further  opposition  to  his 
interest  will  speed  no  better.  ”  He  tells  them  that 
God  raised  him  from  the  dead,  and  they  could  not 
for  shame  answer  him  with  that  foolish  suggestion, 
that  they  palmed  upon  the  people,  that  his  disciples 
came  by  night  and  stole  him  away . 

[5.]  He  preaches  this  to  all  the  by-standers,  to  be 
by  them  repeated  to  all  their  neighbours,  and  com¬ 
mands  all  manner  of  persons,  from  the  highest  to  the 
lowest,  to  take  notice  of  it  at  their  peril;  “ Be  it 
known  to  you  all,  that  are  here  present,  and  it  shall 
be  made  known  to  all  the  people  of  Israel,  wherever 
they  are  dispersed,  in  spite  of  all  vour  endeavours 
to  stifle  and  suppress  the  notice  of  it ;  as  the  Lord 
God  of  gods  knows,  so  Israel  shall  know,  all  Israel 
shall  know,  that  wonders  are  wrought  in  the  name 
of  Jesus,  not  by  repeating  it  as  a  charm,  but  believ¬ 
ing  in  it  as  a  divine  revelation  of  grace  and  good  will 
to  men. 

(2.)  That  the  name  of  this  Jesus,  by  the  authority 
of  which  they  acted,  is  that  name  alone  by  which 
men  can  be  saved.  He  passes  from  this  particular 
instance  to  shew  that  it  is  not  a  particular  sect,  a 
party,  that  is  designed  to  be  set  up  by  the  doctrine 
they  preached,  and  the  miracle  they  wrought,  which 
people  might  either  join  with,  or  keep  off  from,  at 
their  pleasure,  as  it  was  with  the  sects  of  the  philo¬ 
sophers,  and  those  among  the  Jews ;  but  it  is  a  sa¬ 
cred  and  divine  institution  that  is  hereby  ratified  and 
confirmed,  and  which  all  people  are  highly  con¬ 
cerned  to  submit  to,  and  come  into  the  measures  of. 
It  is  not  an  indifferent  thing,  but  of  an  absolute  ne¬ 
cessity,  that  people  believe  in  this  name,  and  call 
upon  it. 

[1.]  We  are  obliged  to  it,  in  duty  to  God,  and  in 
compliance  with  his  designs;  (v.  11.)  “  This  is  the 
Stone  which  was  set  at  nought  of  you  builders,  you 
that  are  the  rulers  of  the  people,  and  the  elders  of 
Israel,  that  should  be  the  builders  of  the  church, 
that  pretend  to  be  so ;  for  the  church  is  God’s  build¬ 
ing.  Here  was  a  Stone  offered  you,  to  be  put  in  the 
chief  place  of  the  building,  to  be  the  main  Pillar  on 
which  the  fabric  might  entirely  rest ;  but  you  set  it 
at  nought,  rejected  it,  would  not  make  use  of  it,  but 
threw  it  by  as  good  for  nothing  but  to  make  a  step¬ 
ping-stone  of ;  but  this  Stone  is  now  become  the  Head 
of  the  corner ;  God  has  raised  up  this  Jesus,  whom 
you  rejected,  and,  by  setting  him  at  his  right  hand, 
has  made  him  both  the  Comer- Stone  and  the  Head- 
Stone,  the  Centre  of  unity  and  the  Fountain  of  pow¬ 
er.”  Probably,  St.  Peter  here  chose  to  make  use 
of  this  quotation,  because  Christ  had  himself  made 
use  of  it  in  answer  to  the  demand  of  the  chief  priests 
and  the  elders  concerning  his  authority,  not  long 
oefore  this,  Matt.  21.  42.  Scripture  is  a  tried 
weapon  in  our  spiritual  conflicts;  let  us  therefore 
stick  to  it. 

[2.  ]  We  are  obliged  to  it  for  our  own  interest.  We 
are  undone  if  we  do  not  take  shelter  in  this  name, 
and  make  it  our  refuge  and  strong  tower ;  for  we 
cannot  be  saved  but  by  Jesus  Christ,  and  if  we  be 
not  eternally  saved,  we  are  eternally  undone ;  (v. 
12. )  jYeither  is  there  salvation  in  any  other.  As  there 
is  no  other  name  bv  which  diseased  bodies  can  be 


cured,  so  there  is  no  other  by  which  sinful  souls  can 
be  saved.  “  By  him,  and  him  only,  by  receiving 
and  embracing  his  doctrine,  salvation  must  now  be 
hoped  for  by  all.  For  there  is  no  other  religion  in 
the  world,  no  not  that  delivered  by  Moses,  by  which 
salvation  can  be  had  for  those  that  do  not  now  come 
into  this,  at  the  preaching  of  it.  ”  So  Dr.  Hammond. 
Observe  here.  First,  Our  salvation  is  our  chief  con¬ 
cern,  and  that  which  ought  to  lie  nearest  our  hearts ; 
our  rescue  from  wrath  and  the  curse,  and  our  resto¬ 
ration  to  God’s  favour  and  blessing.  Secondly,  Our 
salvation  is  not  in  ourselves,  nor  can  be  obtained  by 
any  merit  or  strength  of  our  own  ;  we  can  destroy 
ourselves,  but  we  cannot  save  ourselves.  Thirdly, 
There  are  among  men  many  names  that  pretend  to 
be  saving  names,  but  really  are  not  so ;  many  insti¬ 
tutions  in  religion  that  pretend  to  settle  a  reconcilia¬ 
tion  and  correspondence  between  God  and  man,  but 
cannot  do  it.  Fourthly,  It  is  only  by  Christ  and  his 
name  that  those  favours  can  be  expected  from  God, 
which  are  necessary  to  our  salvation,  and  that  our 
services  can  be  accepted  with  God.  This  is  the  ho¬ 
nour  of  Christ’s  name,  that  it  is  the  only  name 
whereby  we  must  be  saved;  the  only  name  we  have 
to  plead  in  all  our  addresses  to  God.  This  name  is 
given,  God  has  appointed  it,  and  it  is  an  inestimable 
benefit  freely  conferred  upon  us.  It  is  given  under 
heaven  ;  Christ  has  not  only  a  great  name  in  heaven, 
but  a  great  name  under  heaven;  for  he  has  all 
power  both  in  the  upper  and  in  the  lower  world.  It 
is  given  among  men,  who  need  salvation,  men  who 
are  ready  to  perish.  We  may  be  saved  by  his  name, 
that  name  of  his.  The  Lord  our  Righteousness ;  and 
we  cannot  be  saved  by  any  other.  How  far  those 
who  have  not  the  knowledge  of  Christ,  nor  any  ac¬ 
tual  faith  in  him,  yet  live  up  to  the  light  they  have, 
may  find  favour  with  God,  it  is  not  our  business  to 
determine.  But  this  we  know,  that,  whatever  sav¬ 
ing  favour  such  may  receive,  it  is  upon  the  account 
of  Christ,  and  for  his  sake  only  ;  so  that  still  there  is 
no  salvation  in  any  other.  I  have  sumamed  thee, 
though  thou  hast  not  known  me,  Isa.  45.  4. 

IV.  The  stand  that  the  court  was  put  to,  in  the 
prosecution  by  this  plea,  v.  13,  14.  Now  was  ful¬ 
filled  that  promise  Christ  made,  that  he  would  give 
them  a  mouth  and  wisdom,  such  as  all  their  adver¬ 
saries  should  not  be  able  to  gainsay  or  resist. 

1.  They  could  not  deny  the  cure  of  the  lame  man 
to  be  both  a  good  deed  find  a  miracle  ;  he  was  there 
standing  with  Peter  and  John,  ready  to  attest  the 
cure,  if  there  was  occasion,  and  they  had  nothing  to 
say  against  it,  ( v .  14. )  either  to  disprove  it,  or  to 
disparage  it.  It  was  well  that  it  was  not  on  the  sab¬ 
bath-clay,  else  they  would  have  had  that  to  say 
against  it. 

2.  They  could  not,  with  all  their  pomp  and  power, 
face  down  Peter  and  John  ;  this  was  a  miracle  not 
inferior  to  the  cure  of  the  lame  man,  considering 
both  what  cruel  bloody  enemies  these  priests  had 
been  to  the  name  of  Christ,  (enough  to  make  any 
one  tremble  that  appeared  for  him,)  and  considering 
what  cowardly  faint-hearted  advocates  those  disci¬ 
ples  had  lately  been  for  him  ;  Peter  particularly, 
who  denied  him  for  fear  of  a  silly  maul ;  yet  now 
they  see  the  boldness  of  Peter  and  John,  7>.  13. 
Probably,  there  was  something  extraordinary  and 
very  surprising  in  their  looks,  they  appeared  not 
only  undaunted  by  the  rulers,  but  daring  and  daunt¬ 
ing  to  them  ;  they  had  something  majestic  in  their 
foreheads,  sparkling  in  their  eyes,  and  commanding, 
if  not  terrifying,  in  their  voice.  They  set  their  faces 
like  a  flint,  as  the  prophet,  Isa.  50.  7.  Ezek.  3.  8. 
The  courage  of  Christ’s  faithful  confessors  has  often 
been  the  confusion  of  their  cruel  persecutors.  Now, 

(1.)  We  are  here  told  what  increased  their  won¬ 
der  ;  They  perceived  that  they  were  unlearned  and 
ignorant  men :  they  inquired  either  of  themselves 


39 


THE  ACTS,  IV. 


or  others,  and  found  that  they  were  of  mean  extrac¬ 
tion,  bom  in  Galilee,  that  they  were  bred  fishermen, 
and  had  no  learned  education,  had  never  been  at  any 
university,  were  not  brought  up  at  the  feet  of  any  of 
the  Rabbins,  had  never  been  conversant  in  courts, 
camps,  or  colleges;  nay,  perhaps  talk  to  them  at 
this  time  upon  any  point  in  natural  philosophy,  ma¬ 
thematics,  or  politics,  and  you  will  find  they  know 
nothing  of  the  matter  ;  and  yet  speak  to  them  of  the 
Messiah  and  his  kingdom,  and  they  speak  with  so 
much  clearness,  evidence,  and  assurance,  so  perti¬ 
nently,  and  so  fluently,  and  are  so  ready  in  the  scrip¬ 
tures  of  the  Old  Testament  relating  to  it,  that  the 
leamedest  judge  upon  the  bench  is  not  able  to  an¬ 
swer  them,  or  to  enter  the  lists  with  them.  They 
were  ignorant  men — iSiZrtu,  firivate  men,  men  that 
had  not  any  public  character  or  employment ;  and 
therefore  they  wondered  they  should  have  such  high 
pretensions.  They  were  inflows;  (so  the  word  signi¬ 
fies  ;)  they  looked  upon  them  with  as  much  con¬ 
tempt  as  if  they  had  been  mere  naturals,  and  ex¬ 
pected  no  more  from  them,  which  made  them  won¬ 
der  to  see  what  freedom  they  took. 

(2.)  We  are  told  what  made  their  wonder  in  a 
great  measure  to  cease;  they  took  knowledge  of 
them  that  they  had  been  with  Jesus  ;  they  them¬ 
selves,  it  is  probable,  had  seen  them  with  him  in  the 
temple,  and  now  recollected  that  they  had  seen 
them,  or  some  of  their  servants  or  those  about  them 
informed  them  of  it,  for  they  would  not  be  thought 
themselves  to  have  taken  notice  of  such  inferior  peo¬ 
ple.  But  when  they  understood  that  they  had  been 
with  Jesus,  had  been  conversant  with  him,  attendant 
on  him,  and  trained  up  under  him,  they  knew  what 
to  impute  their  boldness  to  ;  nay,  their  boldness  in 
divine  things  was  enough  to  shew  with  whom  they 
had  had  their  education.  Note,  Those  that  have 
been  with  Jesus,  in  converse  and  communion  with 
him,  have  been  attending  on  his  word,  praying  in 
his  name,  and  celebrating  the  memorials  of  his 
death  and  resurrection,  should  conduct  themselves, 
in  every  thing,  so  that  those  who  converse  with 
them,  may  take  knowledge  of  them  that  they  have 
been  with  Jesus.  And  that  makes  them  so  holy, 
and  heavenly,  and  spiritual,  and  cheerful ;  that  has 
raised  them  so  much  above  this  world,  and  filled 
them  with  another.  One  may  know  that  they  have 
been  in  the  mount  by  the  shining  of  their  faces. 

15.  But  when  they  had  commanded 
them  to  go  aside  out  of  the  council,  they 
conferred  among  themselves,  16.  Saying, 
What  shall  we  do  to  these  men  ?  F or  that 
indeed  a  notable  miracle  hath  been  done 
by  them,  is  manifest  to  all  them  that  dwell 
in  Jerusalem;  and  we  cannot  deny?A  17. 
But  that  it  spread  no  further  among  the 
people,  let  us  straitly  threaten  them,  that 
they  speak  henceforth  to  no  man  in  this 
name.  18.  And  they  called  them,  and 
commanded  them  not  to  speak  at  all  nor 
teach  in  the  name  of  Jesus.  19.  But  Peter 
and  John  answered  and  said  unto  them, 
Whether  it  be  right  in  the  sight  of  God  to 
hearken  unto  you  more  than  unto  God, 
judge  ye.  20.  For  we  cannot  but  speak 
the  things  which  we  have  seen  and  heard. 
21.  So  when  they  had  further  threatened 
them,  they  let  them  go,  finding  nothing 
how  they  might  punish  them,  because  of 
the  people:  for  all  men  glorified  God  for 


that  which  was  done.  22.  For  the  mail 
was  above  forty  years  old,  on  whom  this 
miracle  of  healing  was  shewed. 

We  have  here  the  issue  of  the  trial  of  Peter  and 
John  before  the  council  ;  they  came  off  now  with 
flying  colours,  because  they  must  be  trained  up  to 
sufferings  by  degrees ;  and  by  lesser  trials  be  pre¬ 
pared  for  greater  ;  they  now  but  run  with  the  foot 
men,  hereafter  we  shall  have  them  contending  with 
horses,  Jer.  12.  5. 

I.  Here  is  the  consultation  and  resolution  of  the 
court  about  this  matter,  and  their  proceeding  there¬ 
upon. 

1.  The  prisoners  were  ordered  to  withdraw ;  ( v . 
15.)  They  commanded  them  to  go  aside  out  of  the 
council;  willing  enough  to  get  clear  of  them,  (they 
spake  so  home  to  their  consciences,)  and  not  willing 
they  should  hear  the  acknowledgments  that  were 
extorted  from  them  :  but  though  they  might  not 
hear  them,  we  have  them  here  upon  record.  The 
designs  of  Christ’s  enemies  are  carried  on  in  close 
cabals,  and  they  dig  deep,  as  if  they  would  hide  their 
councils  from  the  Lord. 

2.  A  debate  arose  upon  this  matter  ;  they  confer  ■ 
red  among  themselves  ;  every  one  is  desired  to  speak 
his  mind  freely,  and  to  give  advice  upon  this  im¬ 
portant  affair."  Now  the  scri/iture  was  fulfilled, 
that  the  rulers  would  take  counsel  together  against 
the  Lord,  and  against  his  anointed,  Ps.  2.  2.  The 
question  proposed,  was,  What  shall  we  do  to  these 
men?  v.  16.  If  they  would  have  yielded  to  the 
convincing  commanding  power  of  truth,  it  had  been 
easy  to  say  what  they  should  do  to  these  men.  They 
should  have  placed  them  at  the  head  of  their  coun¬ 
cil,  and  receive  their  doctrine,  and  been  baptized 
by  them  in  the  name  of  the  Lord  Jesus,  and  joined 
in  fellowship  with  them.  But  when  men  will  not  be 
persuaded  to  do  what  they  should  do,  it  is  no  marvel 
that  they  are  ever  and  anon  at  a  loss  what  to  do. 
The  truths  of  Christ,  if  men  would  but  entertain 
them  as  they  should,  would  give  them  no  manner 
of  trouble  or  uneasiness  ;  but  if  they  hold  them  or 
imprison  them  in  unrighteousness,  (Rom.  1.  18.) 
they  will  find  them  a  burthensome  stone  that  they 
will  not  know  what  to  do  with,  Zech.  12.  3. 

3.  They  came  at  last  to  a  resolution,  in  two  things. 

(1.)  That  it  was  not  safe  to  punish  the  apostles 

for  what  they  had  done  ;  very  willingly  they  would 
have  done  it,  but  they  had  not  courage  to  do  it,  be¬ 
cause  the  people  espoused  their  cause,  and  cried  up 
the  miracle  ;  and  they  stood  now  in  as  much  awe  of 
them  as  they  had  done  formerly,  when  they  durst 
not  lay  hands  on  Christ  for  fear  of  the  people.  By 
which  it  appears  that  the  outcry  of  the  mob  against 
our  Saviour,  was  a  forced  or  managed  thing,  the 
stream  soon  returned  to  its  former  channel.  Now 
they  could  not  find  how  they  might  punish  Peter 
and  John,  what  colour  they  might  have  for  it,  be¬ 
cause  of  the  people.  They  knew  it  would  be  an  un¬ 
righteous  thing  to  punish  them,  and  therefore  should 
have  been  restrained  from  it  by  the  fear  of  God ; 
but  they  considered  it  only  as  a  dangerous  thing,  and 
therefore  were  held  in  from  it.  only  by  the  fear  of 
the  people.  For, 

[1.]  The  people  were  convinced  of  the  truth  of 
the  miracle  ;  it  was  a  notable  miracle,  yturlr  <r»g»ior 
— a  known  miracle ;  it  was  known  that  they  did  it  in 
Christ’s  name,  and  that  Christ  himsell  had  often 
done  the  like  before ;  this  was  a  known  instance  of 
the  power  of  Christ  and  a  proof  of  his  doctrine ;  that 
it  was  a  great  miracle,  and  wrought  for  the  con 
firmation  of  the  doctrine  they  preached,  (for  it  was 
a  sign,)  was  manifest  to  all  that  dwelt  in  Jerusalem  ; 
it  was  an  opinion  universally  received,  and  the  mira 
cle  being  wrought  at  the  gate  of  the  temple,  univer¬ 
sal  notice  was  taken  of  it ;  and  they  themselves,  with 


40 


THE  ACTS,  IV. 


all  the  craft  and  all  the  front  they  had,  could  not 
deny  it  to  be  a  true  miracle ;  every  body  would  have 
hooted  at  them  if  they  had.  They  could  easily  deny 
it  to  their  own  consciences,  but  not  to  the  world. 
The  proofs  of  the  gospel  were  undeniable. 

[2.]  They  went  further,  and  were  not  only  con¬ 
vinced  of  the  truth  of  the  miracle,  but  all  men  glo¬ 
rified  God  for  that  which  was  done  ;  even  those  that 
were  not  persuaded  by  it  to  believe  in  Christ,  were 
yet  so  affected  with  it  as  a  mercy  to  a  poor  man,  and 
an  honour  to  their  country,  that  they  could  not  but 
give  praise  to  God  for  it ;  even  natural  religion  taught 
them  to  do  that.  And  if  the  priests  had  punished 
Ft  ter  and  John  for  that  for  which  all  men  glorified 
God,  they  would  have  lost  all  their  interest  in  the 
people,  and  been  abandoned  as  enemies  both  to  God 
and  man.  Thus  therefore  their  wrath  shall  be 
made  to  praise  God,  and  the  remainder  thereof  shall 
be  restrained. 

(2.)  They  yet  resolve,  that  it  is  necessary  to 
silence  them  for  the  future,  v.  17,  18.  They  could 
not  prove  that  they  had  said  or  done  any  thing  amiss, 
and  yet  they  must  no  more  say  or  do  what  they  have 
done.  All  their  care  is,  that  the  doctrine  of  Christ 
spread  no  further  among  the  people  ;  as  if  that  heal¬ 
ing  institution  were  a  plague  begun,  the  contagion 
of  which  must  be  stopped.  See  how  the  malice  of 
hell  fights  against  the  counsels  of  heaven  ;  God  will 
have  the  knowledge  of  Christ  to  spread  all  the  world 
over,  but  the  chief  priests  tvould  have  it  spread  no 
further,  which  he  that  sits  in  heaven  laughs  at. 

Now,  to  prevent  the  further  spreading  of  this  doc¬ 
trine, 

[1.]  They  charge  the  apostles  never  to  preach  it 
any  more.  Be  it  enacted  by  their  authority,  (which 
they  think  every  Israelite  is  bound  in  conscience  to 
submit  to,)  That  no  man  speak  at  all  or  teach  in  the 
name  of  Jesus,  v.  18.  We  do  not  find  that  they  give 
them  any  reason  why  the  doctrine  of  Christ  must  be 
suppressed  ;  they  cannot  say  it  is  either  false  or  dan¬ 
gerous,  or  of  any  ill  tendency,  and  they  are  ashamed 
to  own  the  true  reason,  that  it  testifies  against  their 
hypocrisy  and  wickedness,  and  shocks  their  tyranny. 
But,  Stat  pro  ratione  voluntas — They  can  assign  no 
reason  but  their  will.  “We  straitly  charge  and 
command  you,  not  only  that  you  do  not  preach  this 
doctrine  publicly,  but  that  ye  'speak  henceforth  to  no 
man,  not  to  any  particular  person  privately,  in  this 
name,"  v.  17.  There  is  not  a  greater  service  done 
to  the  Devil’s  kingdom  than  the  silencing  of  faithful 
ministers,  and  the  putting  them  under  a  bushel  that 
are  the  lights  of  the  world. 

[2.]  They  threaten  them  if  they  do,  straitly 
threaten  them  :  it  is  at  their  peril.  This  court  will 
reckon  itself  highly  affronted  if  they  do,  and  they 
shall  fall  under  its  displeasure.  Christ  had  not  only 
charged  them  to  preach  the  gospel  to  every  creature, 
but  had  promised  to  bear  them  out  in  it,  and  re¬ 
ward  them  for  it.  Now  these  priests  not  only  for¬ 
bid  them  to  preach  the  gospel,  but  threaten  to  pun¬ 
ish  it  as  a  heinous  crime  ;  but  those  who  know  how 
to  put  a  Just  value  upon  Christ’s  promises,  know 
how  to  put  a.  just  contempt  upon  the  world’s  threaten- 
ings,  though  they  be  threatenings  of  slaughter  that 
it  breathes  out,  ch.  9.  1. 

II.  Here  is  the  courageous  resolution  of  the  pri¬ 
soners  to  go  on  in  their  work,  notwithstanding  the 
resolutions  of  this  court,  and  their  declaration  of  this 
resolution,  v.  19,  20.  Peter  and  John  needed  not 
confer  together,  to  know  one  another’s  minds,  (for 
they  were  both  actuated  by  one  and  the  same  Spirit,) 
but  agree  presently  in  the  same  sentiments,  and 
jointly  put  in  the  answer,  “  Whether  it  be  right  in 
the  right  of  God,  to  whom  both  you  and  we  are  ac¬ 
countable,  to  hearken  unto  you  more  than  unto  God, 
we  appeal  to  yourselves,  judge  ve ;  for  we  cannot 
forbear  speaking  to  every  body  the  things  which  we 


have  seen  and  heard,  and  are  oursleves  full  of,  and 
are  charged  to  publish.”  The  prudence  of  the  ser¬ 
pent  would  have  directed  them  to  be  silent,  and 
though  they  could  not  with  a  good  conscience  pro¬ 
mise  that  they  would  not  preach  the  gospel  any 
more,  yet  they  needed  not  tell  them  that  they  would. 
But  the  boldness  of  the  lion  directed  them  thus  to 
set  both  the  authority  and  the  malignity  of  their  per¬ 
secutors  at  defiance. 

They  do,  in  effect,  tell  them  that  they  are  resolved 
to  go  on  in  preaching,  and  justify  themselves  in  it 
with  two  things. 

1.  The  command  of  God  ;  “You  charge  us  not  to 
preach  the  gospel,  he  has  charged  us  to  preach  it, 
has  committed  it  to  us  as  a  trust,  requiring  us  upon 
our  allegiance  faithfully  to  dispense  it ;  now  whom 
must  we  obey ;  God  or  you  ?”  There  they  appeal 
to  one  of  the  communes  notilix — to  a  settled  and  ac¬ 
knowledged  maxim  in  the  law  of  nature,  that  if 
men’s  commands  and  God’s  interfere,  God’s  com¬ 
mands  must  take  place.  It  is  a  rule  in  the  common- 
law  of  England,  that  if  any  statute  be  made  con¬ 
trary  to  the  law  of  God,  it  is  null  and  void.  Nothing 
can  be  more  absurd  than  to  hearken  unto  weak  and 
fallible  men  that  are  fellow-creatures  and  fellow- 
subjects,  more  than  unto  a  God  that  is  infinitely  wise 
and  holy,  our  Creator  and  sovereign  Lord,  and  the 
Judge  to  whom  we  are  all  accountable.  The  case  is 
so  plain,  so  uncontroverted  and  self-evident,  that  we 
will  venture  to  leave  it  to  yourselves  to  judge  of  it, 
though  you  are  biassed  and  prejudiced.  Can  you 
think  it  right  in  the  sight  of  God  to  break  a  divine 
command  in  obedience  to  a  human  injunction  ? 
That  is  right  indeed,  which  is  right  in  the  sight  of 
God  ;  for  his  judgment,  we  are  sure,  is  according  to 
truth,  and  therefore  by  that  we  ought  to  govern  our¬ 
selves. 

2.  The  convictions  of  their  consciences ;  though 

they  had  not  had  such  an  express  command  from 
heaven  to  preach  the  doctrine  of  Christ,  yet  they 
could  not  but  speak,  and  speak  publicly,  those  things 
which  they  had  seen  and  heard.  Like  Elihu,  they 
were  full  of  this  matter,  and  the  Spirit  within  them 
constrained  them,  they  must  speak,  that  they  might 
be  refreshed,  Job  32.  18,  20.  (1.)  They  felt  the  in¬ 

fluence  of  it  upon  themselves,  what  a  blessed  change 
it  has  wrought  upon  them,  has  brought  them  into  a 
new  world,  and  therefore  they  cannot  but  speak  of 
it :  and  those  speak  the  doctrine  of  Christ  best,  that 
have  felt  the  power  of  it,  and  tasted  the  sweetness 
of  it,  and  have  themselves  been  deeply  affected  with 
it ;  it  is  as  a  fire  in  their  bones,  Jer.  20.  9.  (2.)  They 
know  the  importance  of  it  to  others  ;  they  look  with 
concern  upon  perishing  souls,  and  know  they  cannot 
escape  eternal  ruin  but  by  Jesus  Christ,  and  there¬ 
fore  will  be  faithful  to  them  in  giving  them  warning 
and  shewing  them  the  right  way.  They  are  things 
which  we  have  seen  and  heard,  and  therefore  are 
fully  assured  of  ourselves ;  and  things  which  we  only 
have  seen  and  heard  :  and  therefore,  if  we  do  not 
publish  them,  who  will  ?  Who  can  ?  Knowing  the 
favour,  as  well  as  the  terror,  of  the  Lord,  we  per¬ 
suade  men  ;  for  the  love  of  Christ  and  the  love  of 
souls  constrain  us,  2  Cor.  5.  11,  14. 

III.  There  is  the  discharge  of  the  prisoners;  (v. 
21.)  They  further  threatened  them,  and  thought 
that  they  frightened  them,  and  then  let  them  go. 
There  were  many  whom  they  terrified  into  an 
obedience  to  their  unrighteous  decrees  ;  they  knew 
how  to  keep  men  in  awe  with  their  excommunica¬ 
tions,  (John  9.  22.)  and  thought  they  could  have  the 
same  influence  upon  the  apostles  that  they  had  upon 
other  men ;  but  thev  were  deceived,  for  they  had 
been  with  Jesus.  They  threatened  them,  and  that 
was  all  they  did  now ;  when  they  had  done  that, 
they  let  them  go. 

1.  Because  they  durst  not  contradict  the  people, 


41 


THE  ACTS,  IV. 


who  glorified  God  for  that  which  was  done,  and 
would  have  been  ready  (at  least  they  thought  so)  to 
pull  them  out  of  their  seats,  if  they  had  punished  the 
apostles  for  doing  it.  As  rulers  by  the  ordinance  of 
God  are  made  a  ten'or  and  restraint  to  wicked  peo¬ 
ple,  so  people  are  sometimes  by  the  providence  of 
God  made  a  terror  and  restraint  to  wicked  rulers. 

2.  Because  they  could  not  contradict  the  miracle  ; 
For  {y.  22.)  the  man  was  above  forty  years  old,  on 
whom  this ,  miracle  of  healing  was  shewed.  And 
therefore,  ( 1. )  The  miracle  was  so  much  the  greater; 
he  having  been  lame  from  his  mother's  womb,  ch.  3. 
2.  The  older  he  grew,  the  more  inveterate  the  dis¬ 
ease  was,  and  the  more  hardly  cured.  If  those  that 
are  grown  into  years,  and  have  been  long  accustom¬ 
ed  to  evil,  are  cured  of  their  spiritual  impotency  to 
good,  and  thereby  of  their  evil  customs,  the  power 
of  divine  grace  is  therein  so  much  the  more  magnifi¬ 
ed.  (2. )  The  truth  of  it  was  so  much  the  better  at¬ 
tested  ;  for  the  man  being  above  forty  years  old,  he 
was  able,  like  the  blind  man  whom  Christ  healed, 
when  he  was  asked,  to  speak  for  himself,  John  9.  21. 

23.  And  being  let  go,  they  went  to  their 
own  company,  and  reported  all  that  the 
chief  priests  and  elders  had  said  unto  them. 
24.  And  when  they  heard  that,  they  lifted 
up  their  voice  to  God  with  one  accord,  and 
said,  Lord,  thou  art  God,  which  hast  made 
heaven,  and  earth,  and  the  sea,  and  all  that 
in  them  is :  25.  Who  by  the  mouth  of  thy 
servant  David  hast  said,  Why  did  the  hea¬ 
then  rage,  and  the  people  imagine  vain 
things  ?  26.  The  kings  of  the  earth  stood 

up,  and  the  rulers  were  gathered  together 
against  the  Lord,  and  against  his  Christ. 
27.  For  of  a  truth  against  thy  holy  child 
Jesus,  whom  thou  hast  anointed,  both  He¬ 
rod,  and  Pontius  Pilate,  with  the  Gentiles, 
and  the  people  of  Israel,  were  gathered  to¬ 
gether,  28.  For  to  do  whatsoever  thy  hand 
and  thy  counsel  determined  before  to  be 
done.  29.  And  now,  Lord,  behold  their 
threatenings  :  and  grant  unto  thy  servants, 
that  with  all  boldness  they  may  speak  thy 
word,  30.  By  stretching  forth  thine  hand  to 
heal ;  and  that  signs  and  wonders  may  be 
done  by  the  name  of  thy  holy  child  Jesus. 
31.  And  when  they  had  prayed,  the  place 
was  shaken  where  they  were  assembled  to¬ 
gether  ;  and  they  were  all  filled  with  the 
Holy  Ghost,  and  they  spake  the  word  of 
God  with  boldness. 

We  hear  no  more  at  present  of  the  chief  priests, 
what  they  did  when  they  had  dismissed  Peter  and 
John,  but  are  to  attend  those  two  witnesses.  And 
here  we  have, 

I.  Their  return  to  their  brethren,  the  apostles  and 
ministers,  and  perhaps  some  private  Christians ;  (v. 
23.)  Being  let  go,  they  went  to  their  own  company, 
who  perhaps  were  at  this  time  met  together  in  pain 
for  them,  and  praying  for  them  ;  as  ch.  12.  12.  As 
soon  as  ever  they  were  at  liberty,  they  went  to  their 
old  friends,  and  returned  to  their  church-fellowship. 

1.  Though  God  had  highly  honoured  them,  in 
calling  them  out  to  be  his  witnesses,  and  enabling 
them  to  acquit  themselves  so  well,  yet  they  were  not 
puffed  up  with  the  honour  done  them,  nor  thought 
themselves  thereby  exalted  above  their  brethren, 

Vol.  vi. — F 


but  went  to  their  own  company.  No  advancement 
in  gifts  or  usefulness  «hould  make  us  think  ourselves 
above  either  the  duties  or  the  privileges  of  the  com¬ 
munion  of  saints. 

2.  Though  their  enemies  had  seveiely  threatened 
them,  and  endeavoured  to  break  their  knot,  and 
frighten  them  from  the  work  they  were  jointly  en¬ 
gaged  in,  yet  they  went  to  their  own  company,  and 
feared  not  the  wrath  of  their  rulers.  They  night 
have  had  comfort,  if,  being  let  go,  they  had  retired 
to  their  closets,  and  spent  some  time  in  devotion 
there.  But  they  were  men  in  a  public  station,  and 
must  seek  not  so  much  their  own  personal  satisfac¬ 
tion,  as  the  public  good.  Christ’s  followers  do  best 
in  cornpany,  provided  it  be  in  their  own  company. 

II.  The  account  they  gave  them  of  what  had  pass¬ 
ed  ;  they  reported  all  that  the  chief  priests  and  elders 
had  said  unto  them,  adding,  no  doubt,  what  they 
were  enabled  by  the  grace  of  God  to  reply  to  them, 
and  how  their  trial  issued.  They  related  it  to  them, 

1.  That  they  might  know  what  to  expect  both 
from  men  and  from  God  in  the  progress  of  their 
work ;  from  men  they  might  expect  every  thing 
that  was  terrifying,  but  from  God  every  thing  that 
was  encouraging ;  men  would  do  their  utmost  to  run 
them  down,  but  God  would  take  effectual  care  to 
bear  them  up.  Thus  the  brethren  in  the  Lord 
would  wax  confident  through  their  bonds,  and  their 
experiences,  as  Phil.  1.  14. 

2.  That  they  might  have  it  recorded  in  the  his¬ 
tory  of  the  church,  for  the  benefit  of  posterity,  par¬ 
ticularly  for  the  confirmation  of  our  faith  touching 
the  resurrection  of  Christ.  The  silence  of  an  adver¬ 
sary,  in  some  cases,  is  next  door  to  the  consent  and 
testimony  of  an  adversary.  These  apostles  told  the 
chief  priests  to  their  faces,  that  God  had  raised  zip 
Jesus  from  the  dead,  and  though  they  were  a  body 
of  them  together,  they  had  not  the  confidence  to 
deny  it,  but  in  the  silliest  and  most  sneaking  man¬ 
ner  imaginable,  bid  the  apostles  not  tell  any  body 
of  it. 

3.  That  they  might  now  join  with  them  in  prayers 
and  praises  ;  and  by  such  a  concert  as  this  God  would 
be  the  more  glorified,  and  the  church  the  more 
edified.  We  should  therefore  communicate  to  our 
brethren  the  providences  of  God  that  relate  to  us, 
and  our  experience  of  his  presence  with  us,  that 
they  may  assist  us  in  our  acknowledgment  of  God 
therein. 

III.  Their  address  to  God  upon  this  occasion ; 
When  they  heard  of  the  impotent  malice  of  the 
priests,  and  the  potent  courage  of  the  sufferers,  they 
called  their  company  together,  and  went  to  prayer ; 
they  lifted  up  their  voice  to  God  with  one  accord,  v. 
24.  Not  that  it  can  be  supposed  that  they  all  said 
the  same  words  at  the  same  time,  (though  it  was 
possible  they  might,  being  all  inspired  by  one  and 
the  same  Spii-it, )  but  one  in  the  name  of  the  rest 
lifted  up  his  voice  to  God,  and  the  rest  joined  with 
him,  o/jLc,Bvy.s.iov — with  one  mind ;  (so  the  word  sig¬ 
nifies  ;)  their  hearts  went  along  with  him,  and  so 
though  but  one  spake,  they  all  prayed  ;  one  lifted 
up  his  voice,  and,  in  concurrence  with  him,  thev  all 
lifted  up  their  hearts,  which  was,  in  effect,  lifting 
up  their  voice  to  God ;  for  thoughts  are  words  to 
God.  Moses  cried  unto  God,  when  we  find  not  a 
word  said. 

Now  in  this  solemn  address  to  God,  we  have, 

1.  Their  adoration  of  God  as  the  Creator  of  the 
world ;  (v.  24. )  With  one  mind,  and  so,  in  effect, 
with  one  mouth,  they  glorified  God,  Rom.  15.  6. 
They  said,  “  O  Lord,  thou  art  God ,  God  alone ; 
Aitrirorct,  thou  art  our  Master  and  sovereign  Ruler," 
(so  the  word  signifies,)  “thou  art  God;  God,  and 
not  man ;  God,  and  not  the  work  of  men’s  hands ; 
the  Creator  of  all,  and  not  the  creature  of  men’s 
fancies.  Thou  art  the  God  which  hast  made  hea- 


12  THE  ACTS,  IV. 


ven  and  earth ,  and  the  sea ,  the  upper  and  lower 
world,  and  all  the  creatures  that  are  in  both.” 
Thus  we  Christians  distinguish  ourselves  from  the 
heathen,  that,  while  they  worship  gods  which  they 
have  made,  we  are  worshipping  the  God  that  made 
us  and  all  the  world.  And  it  is  very  proper  to  begin 
our  prayers,  as  well  as  our  creed,  with  the  acknow¬ 
ledgment  of  this,  that  God  is  the  Father  almighty , 
Maker  of  heaven  and  earth,  and  of  all  things  visi¬ 
ble  and  invisible.  Though  the  apostles  were  at  this 
time  full  of  the  mystery  of  the  world’s  redemption, 
yet  they  do  not  forget  or  overlook  the  history  of  the 
world’s  creation ;  tor  the  Christian  religion  was  in¬ 
tended  to  confirm  and  improve,  not  to  eclipse  or 
justle  out,  the  truths  and  dictates  of  natural  religion. 
It  is  a  great  encouragement  to  God’s  servants,  both 
in  doing  work,  and  suffering  work,  that  they  serve 
the  God  that  made  all  things,  and  therefore  has  the 
disposal  of  their  times,  and  all  events  concerning 
them,  and  is  able  to  strengthen  them  under  all  their 
difficulties.  And  if  we  give  him  the  glory  of  this, 
we  may  take  the  comfort  of  it. 

2.  Their  reconciling  themselves  to  the  present  dis¬ 
pensations  of  Providence,  by  reflecting  upon  those 
scriptures  in  the  Old  Testament  which  foretold  that 
the  kingdom  of  the  Messiah  would  meet  with  such 
opposition  as  this  at  the  first  setting  of  it  up  in  the 
world,  v.  25,  26.  God,  who  made  heaven  and  earth, 
cannot  meet  with  any  [effectual]  opposition  to  his 
designs,  since  none  dare  [at  least,  can  prevailingly] 
dispute  or  contest  with  him.  Yea,  thus  it  was  writ¬ 
ten,  Thus  he  spake  by  the  mouth,  thus  he  wrote  by 
the  pen,  of  his  servant  David,  who,  as  appears  by 
this,  was  the  penman  of  the  second  psalm,  and  there¬ 
fore,  most  probably,  of  the  first,  and  other  psalms 
that  are  not  ascribed  to  any  other,  though  they  have 
not  his  name  in  the  title.  Let  it  not  therefore  be  a 
surprise  to  them,  or  any  discouragement  to  any  in 
embracing  their  doctrine,  for  the  scri/iture  must  be 
fulfilled.  It  was  foretold,  Ps.  2.  1,  2.  (1.)  That 
the  heathen  would  rage  at  Christ  and  his  kingdom, 
and  be  angry  at  the  attempts  to  set  it  up,  because 
that  would  be  the  pulling  down  of  the  gods  of  the 
heathen,  and  giving  check  to  the  wickedness  of  the 
heathen.  (2.)  That  the  people  would  imagine  all 
the  things  that  could  be  against  it,  to  silence  the 
teachers  of  it,  to  discountenance  the  subjects  of  it, 
and  to  crush  all  the  interests  of  it  If  they  prove 
vain  things  in  the  issue,  no  thanks  to  them  who  ima¬ 
gined  them.  (3.)  That  the  kings  of  the  earth,  par¬ 
ticularly,  would  stand  up  in  opposition  to  the  king¬ 
dom  of  Christ,  as  if  they  were  jealous  (though  there 
is  no  occasion  for  their  being  so)  that  it  would  inter¬ 
fere  with  their  powers,  and  intrench  upon  their  pre¬ 
rogatives.  The  kings  of  the  earth,  that  are  most 
favoured  and  honoured  by  Divine  Providence,  and 
should  do  most  for  God,  are  strangers  and  enemies 
to  divine  grace,  and  do  most  against  God.  (4. )  That 
the  rulers  would  gather  together  against  God  and 
Christ ;  not  only  monarchs,  that  have  the  power  in 
their  single  persons,  but  there  where  the  power  is 
m  many  rulers,  councils,  and  senates,  thev  gather 
together,  to  consult  and  decree  against  the  Lord,  and 
against  his  Christ — against  both  natural  and  revealed 
religion.  What  is  done  against  Christ,  God  takes 
as  done  against  himself.  Christianity  was  not  only 
destitute  of  the  advantage  of  the  countenance  and 
support  of  kings  and  rulers,  (it  had  neither  their 
power  nor  their  purses,)  but  it  was  opposed  and 
fought  against  by  them,  and  they  combined  to  run 
it  down,  and  yet  it  made  its  way. 

3.  Their  representation  of  the  present  accomplish¬ 
ment  of  those  predictions  in  the  enmity  and  malice 
of  the  rulers  against  Christ.  What  was  foretold  we 
see  fulfilled,  v.  27,  28.  It  is  of  a  truth,  it  is  cer¬ 
tainly  so,  it  is  too  plain  to  be  denied,  and  in  it  ap¬ 
pears  the  truth  of  the  prediction,  that  Herod  and 


Pilate,  the  two  Roman  governors,  with  the  Gentiles, 
(the  Roman  soldiers  under  their  command,)  and 
with  the  fieo/ile  of  Israel,  (the  rulers  of  the  Jews  and 
the  mob  that  is  under  their  influence, )  were  gathered 
together  in  a  confederacy  against  the  Holy  Child 
Jesus  whom  thou  hast  anointed.  Some  copies  add 
another  circumstance,  ev  tS  -etoas/  <r»  <raiul*-\-in  this 
thy  holy  city,  where,  above  any  place,  he  Should 
have  been  welcomed.  But  herein  they  do  that  which 
thy  hand  and  thy  counsel  determined  before  to  be 
done.  See  here,  (1. )  The  wise  and  holy  designs  God 
had  concerning  Christ.  He  is  here  called  the  Child 
Jesus,  as  he  was  called  (Luke  2.  27,  43. )  in  his  in¬ 
fancy,  to  intimate  that  even  in  his  exalted  state  he 
is  not  ashamed  of  his  condescensions  for  us,  and  that 
he  continues  meek  and  lowly  in  heart.  In  the  height 
of  his  glory  he  is  the  Lamb  of  God,  and  the  Child 
Jesus.  But  he  is  the  Holy  Child  Jesus,  (so  he  was 
called,  Luke  1.  35.  that  Holy  Thing,)  and  thy  holy 
Child ;  the  word  signifies  both  a  son  and  a  servant, 
7rai<tcL  an ;  he  was  the  Son  of  God ;  and  yet  in  the  work 
of  redemption  he  acted  as  his  Father’s  Servant,  (Isa. 
42.  1.)  My  Servant  whom  I  uphold.  It  was  he 
whom  God  anointed,  both  qualified  for  the  under¬ 
taking,  and  called  to  it ;  and  thence  he  was  called 
the  Lord’s  Christ,  v.  26.  And  this  comes  in  as  a 
reason  why  they  set  themselves  with  so  much  rage 
and  violence  against  him,  because  God  had  anointed 
him,  and  they  were  resolved  not  to  resign,  much  less 
to  submit  to  him.  David  was  envied  by  Saul,  be¬ 
cause  he  was  the  Lord’s  anointed.  And  the  Philis¬ 
tines  came  up  to  seek  David  when  they  heard  he 
was  anointed,  2  Sam.  5.  17.  Now  the  God  that 
anointed  Christ,  determined  what  should  be  done  to 
him,  pursuant  to  that  anointing ;  he  was  anointed  to 
be  a  Saviour,  and  therefore  it  was  determined  he 
should  be  a  Sacrifice,  to  make  atonement  for  sin  ;  he 
must  die  therefore,  he  must  be  slain,  yet  not  by  his 
own  hands;  therefore  God  wisely  determined  before 
by  what  hands  it  should  be  done,  it  must  be  by  the 
hands  of  those  who  will  treat  him  as  a  criminal  and 
malefactor,  and  therefore  it  cannot  be  done  by  the 
hands  either  of  angels  or  good  men  ;  he  must  there¬ 
fore  be  delivered  into  the  hands  of  sinners,  as  Job 
was,  ch.  16.  11.  And  as  David  was  delivered  to 
Shimei  to  be  made  a  curse;  (2  Sam.  16.  11.)  The 
Lord  has  bidden  him.  God’s  hand  and  his  counsel 
determined  it,  his  will,  and  his  wisdom.  God’s  hand, 
which  properly  denotes  his  executive  power,  is  here 
put  for  his  purpose  and  decree,  because  with  him 
saying  and  doing  are  not  two  things,  as  they  are  with 
us.  His  hand  and  his  counsel  always  agree  ;  for 
whatsoever  the  Lord  pleased  that  did  he.  Dr.  Ham¬ 
mond  makes  this  phrase  of  God’s  hand  determining 
it,  to  be  an  allusion  to  the  High-Priest’s  casting  lots 
upon  the  two  goats  on  the  day  of  atonement,  (Lev. 
16.  8.)  in  which  he  lifted  up  the  hand  that  he  hap¬ 
pened  to  have  the  lot  for  the  Lord  in,  and  that  goat 
on  which  it  fell  was  immediately  sacrificed  ;  and  the 
disposal  of  this  lot  was  from  the  Lord,  Prov.  16.  33. 
Thus  God’s  hand  determined  what  should  be  done, 
that  Christ  should  be  the  Sacrifice  slain.  Or,  (if  I 
may  offer  a  conjecture,)  when  God’s  hand  is  here 
said  to  determine,  it  may  be  meant,  not  of  God’s  act¬ 
ing  hand,  but  his  writing  hand,  as,  (Job  13.  26.) 
Thou  writest  bitter  things  against  us  ;  and  God’s  de¬ 
cree  is  said  to  be  that  which  is  written  in  the  scrip¬ 
tures  of  truth,  (Dan.  10.  31.)  and  in  the  volume  of 
the  book  it  was  written  of  Christ,  Ps.  40.  7.  It  was 
God’s  hand  that  wrote  it,  his  hand  according  to  his 
counsel.  The  commission  was  given  under  his  hand. 
(2.)  The  wicked  and  unholy  instruments  that  were 
employed  in  the  executing  of  this  design,  though 
they  meant  not  so,  neither  did  their  hearts  think  so. 
Herod  and  Pilate,  Gentiles  and  Jews,  who  had  been 
at  variance  with  each  other,  united  against  Christ. 
And  God’s  serving  his  own  purposes  by  what  they 


43 


THE  ACTS,  IV. 


<lid,  was  no  excuse  at  all  for  their  malice  and  wick-  j 
edness  in  the  doing  of  it,  any  more  than  God’s  mak¬ 
ing  the  blood  of  the  martyrs  the  seed  of  the  church 
extenuated  the  guilt  of  their  bloody  persecutors.  Sin 
is  not  the  less  evil  for  God’s  bringing  good  out  of  it, 
but  he  is  by  that  the  more  glorified,  and  will  be  so, 
when  the  mystery  of  God  shall  be  finished. 

4.  Their  petition  with  reference  to  the  case  at  this 
time.  The  enemies  were  gathered  together  against 
Christ,  and  then  no  wonder  that  they  were  so  against 
his  ministers ;  the  disciple  is  not  better  than  his  Mas¬ 
ter,  nor  must  expect  better  treatment;  but,  being 
thus  insulted,  they  pray, 

(1.)  That  God  would  take  cognizance  of  the  ma¬ 
lice  of  their  enemies;  Now,  Lord,  behold  their 
threatenings,  v.  29.  Behold  them ,  as  thou  art  said 
to  behold  them  in  the  psalm  before  quoted,  (Ps.  2.  4. ) 
when  they  thought  to  break  his  bands  asunder,  ana 
cast  away  his  cords  from  them;  he  that  sits  in  heaven, 
laughs  at  them,  and  has  them  in  derision ;  and  then 
the  virgin,  the  daughter  of  Zion,  may  despise  the 
impotent  menaces  even  of  the  great  king,  the  king 
of  Assyria,  Isa.  37.  22.  And  now,  Lord ;  ra  vvv ; 
there  is  an  emphasis  upon  the  now,  to  intimate  that 
then  is  God’s  time  to  appear  for  his  people,  when  the 
power  of  their  enemies  is  most  daring  and  threaten¬ 
ing.  They  do  not  dictate  to  God  what  he  shall  do, 
but  refer  themselves  to  him,  like  Hezekiah;  (Isa.  37. 
17. )  “  Open  thine  eyes,  0  Lord,  and  see ;  thou  know- 
est  what  they  say,  thou  behc/dest  mischief  and  spite, 
(Ps.  10.  14.)  to  thee  we  appeal,  behold  their  threat¬ 
enings,  and  either  tie  their  hands,  or  turn  their 
hearts ;  make  their  wrath,  as  far  as  it  is  let  loose,  to 
praise  thee,  and  the  remainder  thereof  do  thou  re¬ 
strain ,”  Ps.  76.  10.  It  is  a  comfort  to  us,  that  if  we 
are  unjustly  threatened,  and  bear  it  patiently,  we 
may  make  ourselves  easy  by  spreading  the  case  be¬ 
fore  the  Lord,  and  leaving  it  with  him. 

(2.)  That  God,  by  his  grace,  would  keep  up  their 
spirits,  and  animate  them  to  go  on  cheerfully  with 
their  work  ;  Grant  unto  thy  servants,  that  with  all 
boldness  they  may  speak  thy  word,  though  the  priests 
and  rulers  have  enjoined  them  silence.  Note,  In 
threatening  times,  our  care  should  not  be  so  much 
that  troubles  may  be  prevented,  as  that  we  may  be 
enabled  to  go  on  with  cheerfulness  and  resolution  in 
our  work  and  duty,  whatever  troubles  we  may  meet 
with.  Their  prayer  is  not,  “  Lord,  behold  their 
threatenings,  and"  frighten  them,  and  stop  their 
mouths,  and  fill  their  faces  with  shame  ;”  but,  “  Be¬ 
hold  their  threatenings,  and  animate  us,  open  our 
mouths  and  fill  our  hearts  with  courage.  ”  They  do 
not  pray,  “  Lord,  give  us  a  fair  opportunity  to  retire 
from  our  work,  now  that  it  is  become  dangerous ;” 
but,  “  Lord,  give  us  grace  to  go  on  in  our  work,  and 
not  to  be  afraid  of  the  face  of  man.”  Observe,  [1.] 
Those  that  are  sent  on  God’s  errands,  ought  to  de¬ 
liver  their  message  with  boldness,  with  all  boldness, 
with  all  liberty  of  speech,  not  shunning  to  declare 
the  whole  counsel  of  God,  whoever  is  offended  ;  not 
doubting  of  what  they  say,  or  of  being  borne  out  in 
saying  it.  [2.]  God  is  to  be  sought  unto  for  an  abi¬ 
lity  to  speak  his  word  with  boldness,  and  those  that 
desire  divine  aids  and  encouragements,  may  depend 
upon  them,  and  ought  to  go  forth,  and  go  on,  in  the 
strength  of  the  Lord  God.  [3.]  The  threatenings 
of  our  enemies,  that  are  designed  to  weaken  our 
hands,  and  drive  us  off  from  our  work,  should  rather 
stir  us  up  to  so  much  the  more  courage  and  resolu¬ 
tion  in  our  work.  Are  they  daring,  that  fight  against 
Christ  ?  For  shame,  let  not  us  be  sneaking,  that  are 
for  him. 

(3.)  That  God  would  still  give  them  power  to 
work  miracles  for  the  confirmation  of  the  doctrine 
they  preached,  which,  by  the  cure  of  the  lame  man, 
they  found  to  contribute  very  much  to  their  success, 
and  would  contribute  abundantly  to  their  further 


progress.  Lord,  grant  us  boldness,  by  stretching 
forth  thine  hand  to  heal.  Note,  Nothing  imboldens 
faithful  ministers  more  in  their  work,  than  the  tokens 
of  God’s  presence  with  them,  and  a  divine  powert 
going  along  with  them.  They  pray,  [1.  ]  That  God 
would  stretch  forth  his  hand  to  heal,  both  the  bodies 
and  souls  of  men ;  else  in  vain  do  they  stretch  forth 
their  hands,  either  in  preaching,  (Isa.  65.  2.)  or  in 
curing.  [2.]  That  signs  and  wonders  might  be  done 
by  the  name  of  the  holy  Child  Jesus,  which  would 
be  convincing  to  the  people,  and  confounding  to  the 
enemies.  Christ  had  promised  them  a  power  to 
work  miracles,  for  the  proof  of  their  commission  ; 
(Mark  16.  17,  18.)  yet  they  must  pray  for  it ;  and, 
though  they  had  it,  must  pray  for  the  continuance 
of  it.  Christ  himself  must  ask,  and  it  shall  be  given 
him.  Observe,  It  is  the  honour  of  Christ  that  they 
aim  at  in  this  request,  that  the  wonder  might  be  done 
by  the  name  of  Jesus,  the  holy  Child  Jesus,  and  his 
name  shall  have  all  the  glory. 

IV.  The  gracious  answer  God  gave  to  this  address, 
not  in  word,  but  in  power. 

1.  God  gave  them  a  sign  of  the  acceptance  of  their 
prayers;  (v.  31.)  When  they  had  prayed,  (perhaps 
many  of  them  prayed  successively,  one  by  one,  ac¬ 
cording  to  the  rule,  (1  Cor.  14.  31.)  and  when  they 
had  concluded  the  work  of  the  day,)  the  place  was 
shaken  where  they  were  assembled  together,  there 
was  a  strong  mighty  wind,  such  as  that  when  the 
Spirit  was  poured  out  upon  them,  ( ch .  2.  1,  2. )  which 
shook  the  house,  which  was  now  their  house  of  prayer. 
This  shaking  of  the  place  was  designed  to  strike  an 
awe  upon  them,  and  to  awaken  and  raise  their  ex¬ 
pectations,  and  to  give  them  a  sensible  token  that 
God  was  with  them  of  a  truth  :  and  perhaps  it  was 
to  put  them  in  mind  of  that  prophecy,  (Hag.  2.  7.) 
I  will  shake  all  nations,  and  will  fill  this  house  with 
glory.  This  was  to  shew  them  what  reason  they 
had  to  fear  God  more,  and  then  they  would  fear  man 
less.  He  that  shook  this  place,  could  make  the 
hearts  of  those  who  threatened  his  servants  thus,  to 
tremble,  for  he  cuts  off.  the  spirit  of  princes,  and  is 
terrible  to  the  kings  of  the  earth.  The  place  was 
shaken,  that  their  faith  might  be  established  and  un¬ 
shaken. 

2.  God  gave  them  greater  degrees  of  his  Spirit, 
which  was  the  thing  they  prayed  for ;  their  prayer, 
without  doubt,  was  accepted,  for  it  was  answered, 
they  were  all  filled  with  the  Holy  Ghost,  more  than 
ever ;  by  which  they  were  not  only  encouraged,  but 
enabled,  to  speak  the  word  of  God  with  boldness, 
and  not  to  be  afraid  of  the  proud  and  haughty  looks 
of  men.  The  Holy  Ghost  taught  them  not  only  what 
to  speak,  but  how  to  speak.  Those  that  were  en¬ 
dued  habitually  with  the  powers  of  the  Holy  Ghost, 
had  yet  occasion  for  fresh  supplies  of  the  Spirit,  ac¬ 
cording  as  the  various  occurrences  of  their  service 
were.  They  were  filled  with  the  Holy  Ghost  at  the 
bar,  (i\  8.)  and  now  filled  with  the  Holy  Ghost  in 
the  pulpit ;  which  teaches  us  to  live  in  an  actual  de¬ 
pendence  upon  the  grace  of  God,  according  as  the 
duty  of  every  day  requires  ;  we  need  to  be  anointed 
with  fresh  oil  upon  every  fresh  occasion.  As  in  the 
providence  of  God,  so  in  the  grace  of  God,  we  not 
only  in  general  live,  and  have  our  being,  but  move 
in  every  particular  action,  ch.  17.  28.  M  e  have 
here  an  instance  of  the  performance  of  that  promise, 
that  God  will  give  the  Holy  Spirit  to  them  that  ask 
him  ;  (Luke  11.  13.)  for  it  was  in  answer  to  prayer 
that  they  were  filled  with  the  Holy  Ghost ;  and  we 
have  also  an  example  of  the  improvement  of  that 
gift,  which  is  required  of  all  on  whom  it  is  bestowed; 
have  it  and  use  it,  use  it,  and  have  more  of  it.  When 
they  were  filled  with  the  Holy  Ghost,  they  spake  the 
word  with  all  boldness;  for  the  ministration  of  the 
Spirit  is  given  to  every  man,  to  profit  withal.  Ta¬ 
lents  must  be  traded  with,  not  buried.  When  they 


44 


THE  ACTS,  IV. 


find  the  Lord  God  helfi  them  by  his  Spirit,  they  know 
they  shall  not  be  confounded,  Isa.  50.  7. 

32.  And  the  multitude  of  them  that  be¬ 
lieved  were  of  one  heart  and  of  one  soul : 
neither  said  any  of  them  that  aught  of  the 
things  which  he  possessed  was  his  own ; 
but  they  had  all  things  common.  33.  And 
with  great  power  gave  the  apostles  witness 
of  the  resurrection  of  the  Lord  Jesus  :  and 
great  grace  was  upon  them  all.  34.  Nei¬ 
ther  was  there  any  among  them  that  lack¬ 
ed  :  for  as  many  as  were  possessors  of  lands 
or  houses  sold  them,  and  brought  the  prices 
of  the  things  that  were  sold,  35.  And  laid 
them  down  at  the  apostles’  feet :  and  dis¬ 
tribution  was  made  unto  every  man  ac¬ 
cording  as  he  had  need.  36.  And  Joses, 
who  by  the  apostles  was  surn anted  Barna¬ 
bas,  (which  is,  being  interpreted,  The  son 
of  consolation,)  a  Levite,  and  of  the  coun¬ 
try  of  Cyprus,  37.  Having  land,  sold  it , 
and  brought  the  money,  and  laid  it  at  the 
apostles’  feet. 

We  have  a  general  idea  given  us  in  these  verses, 
and  it  is  a  very  beautiful  one,  of  the  spirit  and  state 
of  this  truly  primitive  church  ;  it  is  conspectus  sceculi 
— a  view  of  that  age  of  infancy  and  innocence. 

I.  The  disciples  loved  one  another  dearly.  Be¬ 
hold,  how  good  and  how  pleasant  it  was  to  see  how 
the  multitude  o  them  that  believed,  were  of  one 
heart,  and  of  one  soul,  ( v .  32.)  and  there  was  no 
such  thing  as  discord  or  division  among  them.  Ob¬ 
serve  here, 

1.  There  were  multitudes  that  believed;  even  in 
Jerusalem,  where  the  malignant  influence  of  the 
chief  priests  was  most  strong,  there  were  three  thou¬ 
sand  converted  on  one  day,  and  five  thousand  on 
another,  and,  beside  those,  there  were  added  to  the 
church  daily  ;  and,  no  doubt,  they  were  all  baptized, 
and  made  profession  of  the  faith  ;  for  the  same  Spirit 
that  endued  the  apostles  with  courage  to  preach  the 
faith  of  Christ,  endued  them  with  courage  to  confess 
it.  Note,  The  increase  ot  the  church  is  the  glory 
of  it,  and  the  multitude  of  them  that  believe,  more 
than  their  quality.  Now  the  church  shines,  and 
her  light  is  come,  when  souls  thus  fly  like  a  cloud 
into  her  bosom,  and  like  doves  to  their  windows,  Isa. 
60.  1,  8. 

2.  They  were  all  of  one  heart,  and  of  one  soul. 
Though  there  were  many,  very  many,  of  different 
ages,  tempers,  and  conditions,  in  the  world,  who, 
perhaps,  before  they  believed,  were  perfect  stran¬ 
gers  to  one  another,  yet,  when  they  met  in  Christ, 
they  were  as  intimately  acquainted  as  if  they  had 
known  one  another  many  years.  Perhaps,  they  had 
been  of  different  sects  among  the  Jews,  before  their 
conversion,  or  had  had  discords  upon  civil  accounts ; 
but  now  those  were  all  forgotten,  and  laid  aside,  and 
they  were  unanimous  in  the  faith  of  Christ,  and,  be¬ 
ing  all  joined  to  the  Lord,  they  were  joined  to  one 
another  in  holy  love.  This  was  the  blessed  fruit  of 
Christ’s  dying  precept  to  his  disciples,  to  love  one 
another,  and  his  dving  prayer  for  them,  that  they  all 
might  be  one.  We  have  reason  to  think  they  di¬ 
vided  themselves  into  several  congregations,  or  wor¬ 
shipping  assemblies,  according  as  their  dwellings 
were,  under  their  respective  ministers ;  and  yet  that 
occasioned  no  jealousy  or  uneasiness ;  for  they  were 
all  of  one  heart,  and  one  soul,  notwithstanding ;  and 
loved  those  of  other  congregations,  as  truly  as  those 


of  their  own.  Thus  it  was  then,  and  we  may  not 
despair  of  seeing  it  so  again,  when  the  Spirit  shall  be 
poured  out  upon  us  from  on  high. 

II.  The  ministers  went  on  in  their  work  with 
great  vigour  and  success  ;  ( v .  33.)  With  great  power 
gave  the  apostles  witness  of  the  resurrection  of  the 
Lord  Jesus.  The  doctrine  they  preached,  was,  the 
resurrection  of  Christ :  a  matter  of  fact,  which 
served  not  only  for  the  confirmation  of  the  truth  of 
Christ’s  holy  religion,  but,  being  duly  explained 
and  illustrated,  with  the  proper  inferences  from  it, 
served  for  a  summary  of  all  the  duties,  privileges, 
and  comforts,  of  Christians.  The  resurrection  of 
Christ,  rightly  understood  and  improved,  will  let  us 
into  the  great  mysteries  of  religion. 

By  the  great  power,  wherewith  the  apostles  attested 
the  resurrection,  may  be  meant, 

1.  The  great  vigour,  spirit,  and  courage,  with 
which  they  published  and  avowed  this  doctrine  ; 
they  do  it  not  softly  and  diffidently,  but  with  liveli¬ 
ness  and  resolution,  as  those  that  were  themselves 
abundantly  satisfied  of  the  truth  of  it,  and  earnestly- 
desired  that  others  should  be  so  too.  Or, 

2.  The  miracles  which  they  wrought  to  confirm 
their  doctrine  ;  With  works  of  great  power,  they 
gave  witness  to  the  resurrection  of  Christ,  God  him¬ 
self,  in  them,  bearing  witness  too. 

III.  The  beauty  of  the  Lord  our  God  shone  upon 
them,  and  all  their  performances  ;  Great  grace  was 
upon  them  all,  not  only  all  the  apostles,  but  all  the 
believers,  wk  /utyd\n  ;  grace  that  had  something 
great  in  it,  (magnificent  and  very  extraordinary,) 
was  upon  them  all. 

1.  Christ  poured  out  abundance  of  grace  upon 
them,  such  as  qualified  them  for  great  services,  by 
enduing  them  with  great  power  ;  it  came  upon  them 
from  on  high,  from  above. 

2.  There  were  evident  fruits  of  this  grace  in  all 
they  said  and  did,  such  as  put  an  honour  upon  them, 
and  recommended  them  to  the  favour  of  God,  as 
being  in  his  sight  of  great  price. 

3.  Some  think  it  includes  the  favour  they  were  in 
with  the  people.  Every  one  saw  a  beauty  and  ex- 
cellencv  in  them,  and  respected  them. 

IV.  They  were  very  liberal  to  the  poor,  and  dead 
to  this  world.  This  was  as  great  an  evidence  of  the 
grace  of  God  in  them  as  any  other,  and  recom¬ 
mended  them  as  much  to  the  esteem  of  the  people. 

1.  They  insisted  not  upon  property,  which  even 
children  seem  to  have  a  sense  of,  and  a  jealousy  for, 
and  which  worldly  people  triumph  in,  as  Laban, 
(Gen.  31.  43.)  All  that  thou  seestis  mine ;  and  Na- 
bal,  (1  Sam.  25.  11.)  My  bread  and  my  water. 
These  believers  were  so  taken  up  with  the  hopes  of 
an  inheritance  in  the  other  world,  that  this  was  as 
nothing  to  them.  jVo  man  said  that  aught  of  the 
things  which  he  possessed,  was  his  own,  v.  32.  They 
did  not  take  away  property,  but  they  were  indiffer¬ 
ent  to  it.  They  did  not  call  what  they  had,  their 
own,  in  a  way  of  pride  and  vain-glorv,  boasting  of 
it,  or  trusting  in  it.  Thev  did  not  call  it  their  own, 
because  they  had,  in  affection,  forsaken  all  for 
Christ,  and  were  continually  expecting  to  be 
stripped  of  all  for  their  adherence  to  him.  They 
did  not  say,  that  aught  was  their  own  ;  for  we  can 
call  nothing  our  own  but  sin  ;  what  we  have  in  the 
world,  is  more  God’s  than  our  own  ;  we  have  if 
from  him,  must  use  it  for  him,  and  are  accountable 
for  it  to  him.  No  man  said  what  he  had  nvas  his 
own,  tSiov — his  peculiar ;  for  he  was  ready  to  distri¬ 
bute,  willing  to  communicate,  and  desired  not  to  eat 
his  morsel  alone,  but  what  he  had  to  spare  from 
himself  and  family,  his  poor  neighbours  were  wel¬ 
come  to.  They  that  had  estates,  were  not  solici¬ 
tous  to  lay  up,  but  very  willing  to  lay  out,  and  would 
straiten  themselves  to  help  their  brethren.  No  mar¬ 
vel  that  they  were  of  one  heart  and  soul ,  when  they 


45 


THE  ACTS,  V. 


sat  so  loose  to  the  wealth  of  this  world  ;  for  meum — 
mine  and  tnum — thine  are  the  great  make-baits. 
Men’s  holding  their  own,  and  grasping  at  more  than 
their  own,  are  the  rise  of  wars  and  fightings. 

2.  They  abounded  in  charity,  so  that,  in  effect, 
they  had  ' all  things  common  ;  for,  (v.  34. )  there  was 
not  any  among  them  that  lacked,  but  care  wras  ta¬ 
ken  for  their  supply.  Those  that  had  been  main¬ 
tained  upon  the  public  charity,  when  they  turned 
Christians,  probably  were  excluded,  and  therefore 
it  was  fit  that  the  church  should  take  care  of  them. 
As  there  were  many  poor  that  received  the  gospel, 
so  there  were  some  rich  that  were  able  to  maintain 
them,  and  the  grace  of  God  made  them  willing. 
Therefore  those  that  gather  much,  have  nothing 
over,  because  what  they  have  over,  they  have  for 
them  who  gather  little,  that  they  may  have  no  lack, 

2  Cor.  8.  14,  15.  The  gospel  hath  laid  all  things 
common,  not  so  that  the  poor  are  allowed  to  rob  the 
rich,  but  so  that  the  rich  are  appointed  to  relieve 
the  poor. 

3.  They  did  many  of  them  sell  their  estates,  to 
raise  a  fund  for  charity  ;  As  many  as  had  possession 
of  lands  or  houses,  sold  them,  v.  34.  Dr.  Lightfoot 
computes  that  this  was  the  year  of  jubilee  in  the 
Jewish  nation,  the  fiftieth  year,  (the  twenty-eighth 
since  they  settled  in  Canaan  fourteen  hundred  years 
ago,)  so  that  what  was  sold  that  year  being  not  to 
return  till  the  next  jubilee,  lands  then  took  a  good 
price,  and  so  the  sale  of  those  lands  would  raise  the 
more  money. 

Now,  (1.)  We  are  here  told  what  they  did  w'ith 
the  money  that  was  so  raised ;  they  laid  it  at  the 
apostles'  feet,  they  left  it  to  them  to  be  disposed  of 
as  they  thought  fit ;  probably,  they  had  their  sup¬ 
port  from  it ;  from  whence  else  could  they  have  it  ? 
Observe,  The  apostles  would  have  it  laid  at  their 
feet,  in  token  of  their  holy  contempt  of  the  wealth 
of  the  world  ;  they  thought  it  fitter  they  should  be 
laid  at  their  feet  than  lodged  in  their  hands  or  in 
their  bosoms.  Being  laid  there,  it  was  not  hoarded 
up,  but  distribution  was  made,  bv  proper  persons, 
unto  every  man  according  as  he  had  need.  Great 
care  ought  to  be  taken  in  the  distribution  of  public 
charity,  [1.]  That  it  be  given  to  such  as  have  need, 
such  as  are  not  able  to  procure  a  competent  main¬ 
tenance  for  themselv.es,  through  age,  infancy,  sick¬ 
ness,  or  bodily  disability,  or  incapacity  of  mind,  want 
either  of  ingenuity  or  activity,  cross  providences, 
losses,  oppressions,  a  numerous  charge  ;  those  that 
upon  any  of  these  accounts,  or  any  other,  have  real 
need,  and  have  not  relations  of  their  own  to  help 
them  ;  but,  above  all,  those  that  are  reduced  to 
want  for  well  doing,  and  for  the  testimony  of  a  good 
conscience,  ought  to  be  taken  care  of,  and  provided 
for,  and,  with  a  prudent  application  of  what  is  given, 
so  as  may  be  most  for  their  benefit.  [2.]  That  it 
be  given  to  every  man,  for  whom  it  is  intended,  ac¬ 
cording  as  he  had  need,  without  partiality  or  respect 
of  persons.  It  is  a  rule,  in  dispensing  "charity,  as 
well  as  in  administering  justice,  ut  parium  par  sit 
ratio — that  those  who  are  equally  needing  and 
equally  deserving,  should  be  equally  helped,  and 
that  the  charity  should  be  suited  and  adapted  to  the 
necessity,  as  the  word  is. 

(2.)  Here  is  one  particular  person  mentioned,  that 
was  remarkable  for  this  generous  charity ;  it  -was 
Bamiabas,  afterward  Paul’s  colleague.  Observe, 

[1.1  The  account  here  given  concerning  him,  v. 
35.  His  name  was  Joses  ;  he  was  of  the  tribe  of 
J.rvi,  for  there  were  Levites  among  the  Jews  of  the 
dispersion,  who,  it  is  probable,  presided  in  their  sy¬ 
nagogue-worship,  and,  according  to  the  duty  of  that 
tribe,  taught  them  the  good  knowledge  of  the  J.ord. 
He  was  bom  in  Cyprus,  a  great  way  off  from  Jeru¬ 
salem,  his  parents,  though  Jews,  having  a  settle¬ 
ment  there.  Notice  is  taken  of  the  apostles’  chang¬ 


ing  his  name  after  he  associated  with  them.  It  is 
probable  that  he  was  one  of  the  seventy  disciples, 
and,  as  he  increased  in  gifts  and  graces,  grew  emi¬ 
nent,  and  was  respected  by  the  apostles,  who,  in  to¬ 
ken  of  their  value  for  him,  gave  him  a  name,  Bar¬ 
nabas — the  son  of  prophecy,  (so  it  properly  signifies,) 
he  being  endued  with  extraordinary  gifts  of  prophe 
cy.  But  the  Hellenist  Jews  (saith  Grotius)  called 
praying,  T*ga#x»cr/c,  and  therefore  by  that  word  it 
is  rendered  here  ;  A  son  of  exhortation  ;  (so  some  ;) 
one  that  had  an  excellent  faculty  of  healing  and  pur- 
suading ;  we  have  an  instance  of  it,  ch.  11.  22,  24. 
A  son  of  consolation  ;  (so  we  read  it ;)  one  that  did 
himself  walk  very  much  in  the  comforts  of  the  Holy 
Ghost,  a  cheerful  Christian,  and  this  enlarged  his 
heart  in  charity  to  the  poor  ;  or  one  that  was  emi¬ 
nent  for  comforting  the  Lord's  people,  and  speaking 
peace  to  wounded  troubled  consciences  ;  he  had  an 
admirable  felicity  that  way.  There  were  two  among 
the  apostles  that  were  called  Boanerges — Sons  of 
thunder ;  (Mark  3.  17.)  but  here  was  a  son  of  con¬ 
solation  with  them.  Each  had  his  several  gift,  nei¬ 
ther  must  censure  the  other,  but  both  ease  one  ano¬ 
ther  ;  let  the  one  search  the  wound,  and  then  let  the 
other  heal  it  and  bind  it  up. 

[2.]  Here  is  an  account  of  his  charity,  and  great 
generosity  to  the  public  fund.  His  is  particularly 
taken  notice  of,  because  of  the  eminency  of  his  ser¬ 
vices  afterward  in  the  church  of  God,  especially  in 
carrying  the  gospel  to  the  Gentiles  ;  that  this  might 
not  appear  to  come  from  any  ill  will  to  his  own  na¬ 
tion,  we  have  here  his  benevolence  to  the  Jewish 
converts ;  or  perhaps  this  is  mentioned,  because  it 
was  a  leading  card,  and  an  example  to  others  ;  he 
having  land,  whether  in  Cyprus,  where  he  was 
bom,  or  in  Judea,  where  he  now  lived,  or  elsewhere, 
is  not  certain,  but  he  sold  it,  not  to  buy  elsewhere  to 
advantage,  but,  as  a  Levite  indeed,  who  knew  he 
had  the  Lord  God  of  Israel  for  his  inheritance,  he 
despised  earthly  inheritances,  would  be  cumbered 
no  more  with  them,  but  brought  the  mohey,  and 
laid  it  at  the  apostles'  feet,  to  be  given  in  charity. 
Thus,  as  one  that  was  designed  to  be  a  preacher  of 
the  gospel,  he  disentangled  himself  from  the  affairs 
of  this  life  ;  and  he  lest  nothing  upon  the  balance  of 
the  account,  by  laying  the  purchase-wo^et/  at  the 
apostles'  feet,  when  he  himself  was,  in  effect,  num¬ 
bered  among  the  apostles,  by  that  word  of  the  Holy 
Ghost,  Separate  me  Barnabas  and  Saul  for  the 
work  whereunto  I  have  called  them,  ch.  13.  2.  Thus, 
for  the  respect  he  shewed  to  the  apostles  as  apostles, 
he  had  an  apostle's  reward. 

CHAP.  V. 

In  this  chapter,  we  have,  I.  The  sin  and  punishment  of  Ana¬ 
nias  and  Sapphira,  who,  for  lying  to  the  Holy  Ghost,  were 
struck  dead  at  the  word  of  Peter,  v.  1  ..11.  IT.  The 
flourishing  state  of  the  church,  in  the  power  that  went 
along  with  the  preaching  of  the  gospel,  v.  12..  16.  III. 
The  imprisonment  of  the  apostles,  and  their  miraculous 
discharge  out  of  prison,  with  fresh  orders  to  go  on  to  preach 
the  gospel,  which  they  did,  to  the  great  vexation  of  their 
persecutors,  v.  17..  26.  TV.  Their  arraignment  before 
the  great  Sanhedrim,  and  their  justification  of  themselves 
in  what  they  did,  v.  27  . .  33.  V.  Gamaliel’s  counsel  con¬ 
cerning  them,  that  they  should  not  persecute  them,  but  let 
them  alone,  and  see  what  would  come  of  :t,  and  their  con¬ 
currence,  for  the  present,  with  this  advice,  in  the  dismission 
of  the  apostles  with  no  more  than  a  scourging,  v.  34  . .  40. 
VI.  The  apostles’  cheerful  progress  in  their  work,  notwith¬ 
standing  the  prohibition  laid  upon  them,  and  the  indignity 
done  them,  v.  41,  42. 

1.  XJiUT  a  certain  man  named  Ananias, 
JO  with  Sapphira  his  wife,  sold  a 
possession,  2.  And  kept  back  part  of  the 
price,  his  wife  also  being  privy  to  it,  and 
brought  a  certain  part,  and  laid  it  at  the 


40 


THE  ACTS,  V. 


apostles1  feet.  3.  But  Peter  said,  Ananias* 
why  hath  Satan  filled  thine  heart  to  lie  to 
the  Holy  Ghost,  and  to  keep  back  part  of 
the  price  of  the  land  ?  4.  While  it  remain¬ 
ed,  was  it  not  thine  own  ?  And  after  it 
was  sold,  was  it  not  in  thine  own  power  ? 
Why  hast  thou  conceived  this  thing  in  thine 
heart  ?  Thou  hast  not  lied  unto  men,  but 
unto  God.  5.  And  Ananias,  hearing  these 
words,  fell  down,  and  gave  up  the  ghost : 
and  great  fear  came  on  all  them  that  heard 
these  things.  6.  And  the  young  men  arose, 
wound  him  up,  and  carried  him  out,  and 
buried  him.  7.  And  it  was  about  the  space 
of  three  hours  after,  when  his  wife,  not 
knowing  what  was  done,  came  in.  8.  And 
Peter  answered  unto  her,  Tell  me  whether 
ye  sold  the  land  for  so  much  ?  And  she 
said,  Yea,  for  so  much.  9.  Then  Peter 
said  unto  her,  How  is  it  that  ye  have 
agreed  together  to  tempt  the  Spirit  of  the 
Lord  ?  Behold,  the  feet  of  them  which  have 
buried  thy  husband,  are  at  the  door,  and 
shall  carry  thee  out.  10.  Then  fell  she 
down  straightway  at  his  feet,  and  yielded 
up  the  ghost :  and  the  young  men  came  in, 
and  found  her  dead,  and  carrying  her  forth, 
buried  her  by  her  husband.  1 1.  And  great 
fear  came  upon  all  the  church,  and  upon 
as  many  as  heard  these  things. 

The  chapter  begins  with  a  melancholy  but ,  which 
puts  a  stop  to  the  pleasant  and  agreeable  prospect 
of  things  which  we  had  in  the  foregoing  chapters  ; 
as  every  man,  so  every  church,  in  its  best  state,  has 
its  but . "  1.  The  disciples  were  very  holy,  and  hea¬ 
venly,  and  seemed  to  be  all  exceeding  good ;  but 
thei’e  were  hypocrites  among  them,  whose  hearts 
were  not  right  in  the  sight  of  God,  who,  when  they 
were  baptized,  and  took  upon  them  the  form  of  god¬ 
liness,  denied  the  power  of  godliness,  and  stopped 
short  of  that  There  is  a  mixture  of  bad  with  good 
in  the  best  societies  on  this  side  heaven  ;  tares  will 
grow  among  the  wheat  until  the  harvest.  2.  It  was 
the  praise  of  the  disciples,  that  they  came  up  to  that 
perfection  which  Christ  recommended  to  the  rich 
young  man — they  sold  what  they  had,  and  gave  to 
the  poor ;  b  ut  even  that  proved  a  cloak  and  cover  of 
hypocrisy,  which  was  thought  the  greatest  proof 
and  evidence  of  sincerity.  3.  The  signs  and  won¬ 
ders  which  the  apostles  wrought,  were  hitherto  mi¬ 
racles  of  mercy  ;  but  now  comes  in  a  miracle  of 
judgment,  and  here  is  an  instance  of  severity,  fol¬ 
lowing  the  instances  of  goodness,  that  God  may  be 
both  loved  and  feared.  Observe  here, 

I.  The  sin  of  Ananias,  and  Sapphira  his  wife.  It 
is  good  to  see  husband  and  wife  joining  together  in 
that  which  is  good,  but  to  be  confederate  in  evil,  is 
to  be  like  Adam  and  Eve,  when  they  agreed  to  eat 
the  forbidden  fruit,  and  were  one  in  their  disobe¬ 
dience. 

Now  their  sin  was, 

1.  That  they  were  ambitious  of  being  thought  emi¬ 
nent  disciples,  and  of  the  first  rank,  when  really 
they  were  not  true  disciples  ;  they  would  pass  for 
some  of  the  most  fruitful  trees  in  Christ’s  vineyard, 
when  really  the  root  of  the  matter  was  not  found  in 
them.  They  sold  a  possession,  and  brought  the 
money  (as  Barnabas  did1)  to  the  apostles'  feet ,  that 


they  might  not  seem  to  be  behind  the  very  chief  of 
believers,  but  might  be  applauded  and  cried  up,  and 
stand  so  much  the  fairer  for  preferment  in  the 
church,  which  perhaps  they  thought  would  shortly 
shine  in  secular  pomp  and*  grandeur.  Note,  It  is 
possible  that  hypocrites  may  deny  themselves  in 
one  thing,  but  then  it  is  to  serve  themselves  in  ano¬ 
ther;  may  forego  their  secular  advantage  in  one  in¬ 
stance,  with  a  prospect  of  finding  their  account  in 
something  else.  Ananias  and  Sapphira  would  take 
upon  them  a  profession  of  Christianity,  and  make  a 
fair  shew  in  the  flesh  with  it,  and  so  would  mock 
God,  and  deceive  others,  when  they  knew  they 
could  not  go  through  with  the  Christian  profession. 
It  was  commendable,  and  so  far  it  was  right,  in  that 
rich  young  man,  that  he  would  not  pretend  to  follow 
Christ,  when,  if  it  should  come  to  a  pinch,  he  knew 
he  could  not  come  up  to  his  terms,  but  he  went  away 
sorrowful.  Ananias  and  Sapphira  pretended  they 
could  come  up  to  the  terms,  that  they  might  have 
the  credit  of  being  disciples,  when  really  they  could 
not,  and  so  were  a  discredit  to  discipleship.  Note, 
It  is  often  of  fatal  consequence  for  people  to  go  a 
greater  length  in  profession  than  their  inward  prin¬ 
ciple  will  admit  of. 

2.  That  they  were  covetous  of  the  wealth  of  the 
world,  and  distrustful  of  God,  and  his  providence  ; 
They  sold  the  land,  and,  perhaps,  then,  in  a  pang 
of  zeal,  designed  no  other  than  to  dedicate  the  whole 
of  the  purchase-money  to  pious  uses,  and  made  a 
vow,  or  at  least  conceived  a  full  purpose,  to  do  so  ; 
but  when  the  money  was  received,  their  heart  failed 
them,  and  they  kept  back  part  of  the  price,  (v.  2.) 
because  they  loved  the  money,  and  thought  it  was 
too  much  to  part  with  at  once,  and  to  trust  in  the 
apostles’  hands,  and  because  they  knew  not  but  they 
might  want  it  themselves  ;  and  though  now  all 
things  were  common,  yet  it  would  not  be  so  long ; 
and  what  should  they  do  in  a  time  of  need,  if  they 
should  leave  themselves  nothing  to  take  to  ?  They 
could  not  take  God’s  word  that  they  should  be  pro¬ 
vided  for,  but  thought  they  would  play  a  wiser  part 
than  the  rest  had  done,  and  lay  up  for  a  rainy  day. 
Thus  they  thought  to  serve  both  God  a?id  mammon 
— God,  by  bringing  part  of  the  money  to  the  apos¬ 
tles'  feet — and  mammon,  by  keeping  the  other  part 
in  their  own  pockets  ;  as  if  there  were  not  an  all- 
sufficiency  in  God  to  make  up  the  whole  to  them, 
except  they  retained  some  in  their  own  hands  by 
way  of  caution-money.  Their  hearts  were  divided, 
so  were  they  found  faulty ,  Hos.  10.  2.  They  halted 
between  two ;  if  they  had  been  thorough-paced 
worldlings,  they  would  not  have  sold  their  posses- 
sion ;  and  if  they  had  been  thorough-paced  Chris¬ 
tians,  they  would  not  have  detained  part  of  the 
price. 

3.  That  they  thought  to  deceive  the  apostles,  and 
make  them  believe  they  brought  the  whole  purchase 
money,  when  really  it  was  but  a  part.  They  came 
with  as  good  an  assurance,  and  as  great  a  shew  of 
piety  and  devotion,  as  any  of  them,  and  laid  the  money 
at  the  apostles'  feet,  as  if  it  were  their  all.  They 
dissembled  with  God  and  his  Spirit,  with  Christ 
and  his  church  and  ministers  ;  and  this  was  their 
sin. 

II.  The  indictment  of  Ananias,  which  proved  both 
his  condemnation  and  execution  for  this  sin.  When 
he  brought  the  money,  and  expected  to  be  com¬ 
mended  and  encouraged,  as  others  were,  Peter  took 
him  to  task  about  it.  He,  without  any  inquiry  or 
examination  of  witnesses  concerning  it,  charges  him 
peremptorily  with  the  crime,  and  aggravates  it,  and 
lays  load  upon  him  for  it,  shewing  it  him  in  its  own 
colour,  v.  3,  4.  The  Spirit  of  God  in  Peter,  not 
only  discovered  the  fact  without  any  information, 
(when  perhaps  no  man  in  the  world  knew  it  but  the 
man  and  his  wife  themselves,)  but  likewise  discern- 


47 


THE  ACTS,  V. 


ed  the  principle  of  reigning  infidelity  in  the  heart  of 
Ananias ,  which  was  at  the  bottom  of  it,  and  there¬ 
fore  proceeded  against  him  so  suddenly.  Had  it 
been  a  sin  of  infirmity,  through  the  surprise  of  a 
temptation,  Peter  would  have  taken  Ananias  aside, 
and  have  bid  him  go  home,  and  fetch  the  rest  of  the 
money ,  and  repent  of  his  folly  in  attempting  to  put 
this  cheat  upon  them  ;  but  he  knew  that  his  heart 
was  fully  set  in  him  to  do  this  evil,  and  therefore 
allowed  him  not  space  to  repent.  He  here  shewed 
him, 

1.  The  original  of  the  sin.  Satan  filled  his  heart ; 
he  not  only  suggested  it  to  him,  and  put  it  into  his 
head,  but  hurried  him  on  with  resolution  to  do  it. 
Whatever  is  contrary  to  the  good  Spirit,  proceeds 
from  the  evil  spirit ;  and  those  hearts  are  filled  by 
Satan,  in  which  worldliness  reigns,  and  has  the  as¬ 
cendant.  Some  think  that  Ananias  was  one  of  those 
that  had  received  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  was  filled 
with  his  gifts,  but,  having  provoked  the  Spirit  to 
withdraw  from  him,  now  Satan  filled  his  heart ;  as 
when  the  Spirit  of  the  Lord  departed  from  Saul,  an 
evil  spirit  from  God  troubled  him.  Satan  is  a.  lying 
spirit ;  he  was  so  in  the  mouth  of  Ahab's  prophets, 
and  so  lie  was  in  the  mouth  of  Ananias,  and  by  that 
made  it  appear  that  he  filled  his  heart. 

2.  The  sin  itself.  He  lied- to  the  Holy  Ghost;  a 

sin  of  such  a  heinous  nature,  that  he  could  not  have 
been  guilty  of  it  if  Satan  had  not  filled  his  heart. 
The  phrase  which  we  render  lying  to  the  Holy  Ghost, 
is  ■J.ft/tra.ird-A  crt  to  to  ctyiov,  which  some  read, 

to  belie  the  Holy  Ghost ;  which  may  be  taken  two 
ways:  (1.)  That  he  belied  the  Holy  Ghost  in  him¬ 
self;  so  Dr.  Lightfoot  takes  it,  and  supposes  that 
Ananias  was  not  an  ordinary  believer,  but  a  minis¬ 
ter,  and  one  that  had  received  the  gift  of  the  Holy 
Ghost  with  the  hundred  and  twenty  ;  (for  mention 
is  made  of  him  immediately  after  Barnabas  ;)  yet  he 
durst  thus,  by  dissembling,  belie  and  shame  that 
gift.  Or  thus,  They  who  had  sold  their  estates,  and 
laid  the  money  at  the  apostles'  feet,  did  it  by  the  spe¬ 
cial  impulse  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  enabling  them  to  do 
an  act  so  very  great  and  generous  ;  and  Ananias  pre¬ 
tended  that  he  was  moved  by  the  Holy  Ghost  to  do 
what  he  did,  as  others  were  ;  whereas  it  appeared 
by  his  baseness,  that  he  was  not  under  the  influence 
of  the  good  Spirit  at  all  ;  for  had  it  been  his  work,  it 
would  have  been  perfect.  (2.)  That  he  belied  the 
Holy  Ghost  in  the  apostles,  to  whom  he  brought  the 
money ;  he  misrepresented  the  Spirit  they  were  ac¬ 
tuated  by,  either  by  a  suspicion  that  they  would  not 
faithfully  distribute  what  they  were  intrusted  with, 
(which  was  a  base  suggestion,  as  if  they  were  false  to 
the  trust  reposed  in  them,)  or  by  an  assurance  that 
they  could  not  discover  the  fraud.  He  belied  the 
Holy  Ghost,  when  by  what  he  did  he  would  have 
it  thought  that  those  who  are  endued  with  the  gifts 
of  the  Holy  Ghost,  might  as  easily  be  imposed  upon 
as  other  men  ;  like  Gehazi,  whom  his  master  con¬ 
victed  of  his  error  by  that  word,  Went  not  my  heart 
with  thee  ?  2  Kings  5.  26.  It  is  charged  upon  the 
house  of  Israel  and  Judah,  when,  like  Ananias  here, 
they  dealt  very  treacherously,  that  they  belied  the 
Lord,  saying,  It  is  not  he,  Jer.  5.  11,  12.  Thus 
Ananias  thought  the  apostles  were  altogether  such  as 
himself,  and  this  was  belying  the  Holy  Ghost  in 
them,  as  if  he  were  not  in  them  a  Discemer  of  spi¬ 
rits,  whereas  they  had  all  the  gifts  of  the  Spirit  in 
them,  which  to  others  were  divided  severally.  See 
1  Cor.  12.  8,  10.  They  that  pretend  to  an  inspira¬ 
tion  of  the  Spirit,  in  imposing  upon  the  church  their 
own  fancies,  either  in  opinion  or  practice,  that  say, 
they  are  moved  from  above,  when  they  are  carried 
on  by  their  pride,  covetousness,  or  affectation  of 
dominion,  belie  the  Holy  Ghost. 

But  we  read  it,  to  lie  unto  the  Holy  Ghost ;  which 
reading  is  countenanced  by  v.  4.  Thou  hast  not  lied 


unto  men,  but  unto  God.  [1.]  Ananias  told  a  lie  a 
deliberate  lie,  and  with  a  purpose  to  deceive ;  he 
told  Peter  that  he  had  sold  a  possession,  (house  or 
lands,)  and  this  was  the  purchase-money.  Perhaps 
he  expressed  himself  in  words  that  were  capable  of 
a  double  meaning,  used  some  equivocations  about  it, 
which  he  thought  might  palliate  the  matter  a  little, 
and  save  him  from  the  guilt  of  a  downright  he  ;  or 
perhaps  he  said  nothing  ;  but  it  was  all  one,  he  did 
as  the  rest  did,  who  brought  the  whole  price,  and 
would  be  thought  to  do  so,  and  expected  the  praise 
they  had,  that  did  so,  and  the  same  privilege 'Und 
access  to  the  common  stock  as  they  had  ;  and  there¬ 
fore  it  was  an  implicit  protestation  that  he  brought 
the  whole  price,  as  they  did  ;  and  this  was  a  lie,  for 
he  kept  back  fart.  Note,  Many  are  brought  to  gross 
lying,  by  reigning  pride,  and  affectation  of  the  ap¬ 
plause  of  men  ;  particularly  in  works  of  charity  to 
the  poor.  That  therefore  we  may  not  be  found 
boasting  of  a  false  gift  given  to  us,  or  given  by  us, 
(Prov.  25.  14.)  we  must  not  boast  even  of  a  true  gift ; 
which  is  the  meaning  of  our  Saviours  caution  in 
works  of  charity,  Let  not  thy  left  hand  know  what 
thy  right  hand  doetli.  Those  that  boast  of  good 
works  they  never  did,  or  promise  good  works  they 
never  do,  or  make  the  good  works  they  do,  more  or 
better  than  really  they  are,  come  under  the  guilt  of 
Ananias’s  lie  ;  which  it  concerns  us  all  to  dread  the 
thought  of.  [2.]  He  told  this  lie  to  the  Holy  Ghost. 
It  was  not  so  much  to  the  apostles,  as  to  the  Holy 
Ghost  in  them,  that  the  money  was  brought,  and 
that  was  said,  which  was  said,  v.  4.  Thou  hast  not 
lied  unto  men,  not  to  men  only,  not  to  men  chiefly, 
though  the  q. postles  be  but  men  ;  but  thou  hast  lied 
unto  God.  From  hence  it  is  justly  inferred,  that  the 
Holy  Ghost  is  God ;  for  he  that  lieth  to  the  Holy 
Ghost,  lieth  to  God.  “They  that  lied  to  the  apos¬ 
tles,  acted  and  acting  by  the  Spirit  of  God,  are  said 
to  lie  to  God,  because  the  apostles  acted  by  the 
power  and  authority  of  God.  From  whence  it  fol¬ 
lows,  (as  Dr.  Whitby  well  observes,)  that  the  power 
and  authority  of  the  Spirit  must  be  the  power  and 
authority  of  God.”  And,  as  he  further  argues, 
“Ananias  is  said  to  lie  to  God,  because  he  lied  to 
that  Spirit  in  the  apostles,  which  enabled  them  to 
discern  the  secrets  of  men's  hearts  and  actions,  which 
being  the  property  of  God  alone,  he  that  lies  to  him, 
must  therefore  lie  to  God,  because  he  lies  to  one  who 
has  the  incommunicable  property  of  God,  and  con¬ 
sequently  the  divine  essence.  ” 

3.  The  aggravations  of  the  sin;  (y.  4.)  While  it 
remained,  was  it  not  thine  own  ?  And  after  it  was 
sold,  was  it  not  in  thine  own  power?  Which  may 
be  understood  two  ways  :  (1.)  “Thou  wast  under  no 
temptation  to  keep  back  the  price ;  before  it  was 
sold,  it  was  thy  own,  and  not  mortgaged,  ncr  en¬ 
cumbered,  or  any  way  engaged  for  debt ;  and  when 
it  was  sold,  it  was  in  thy  own  power  to  dispose  of  the 
money  at  thy  pleasure;  so  that  thou  mightest  as 
well  have  brought  the  whole  as  a  part.  Thou  hadst 
no  debts  to  pay,  perhaps  no  children  to  provide  for  ; 
so  that  thou  wast  not  under  the  influence  of  any  par¬ 
ticular  inducement  to  keep  back  part  of  the  price. 
Thou  wast  a  transgressor  without  a  cause.  ”  Or, 
(2.)  “Thou  wast  under  no  necessity  of  selling  thy 
land  at  all,  orbringing  any  of  the  money  to  the  apos¬ 
tles'  feet.  Thou  mightest  have  kept  the  money,  if 
thou  hadst  pleased,  and  the  land  too,  and  never  have 
pretended  to  this  piece  of  perfection.”  This  rule 
of  charity  the  apostle  gives,  that  people  be  not 
pressed,  and  that  it  be  not  urged  as  o  f  necessity,  be¬ 
cause  God  loves  a  cheerful  giver,  (2  Cor.  9.  7. )  and 
Philemon  must  do  a  good  work,  not  as  it  were  of  ne¬ 
cessity,  but  willingly,  Phil.  14  As  it  is  better  not  to 
vow  than  to  vow  and  not  to  pay  ;  so  better  had  it 
been  for  him  not  to  have  sold  his  land  at  all  than 
thus  to  keep  back  part  of  the  price  not  to  have  pre- 


48 


THE  ACTS,  V. 


tended  to  do  the  good  work  than  thus  to  do  it  by 
halves.  “  When  it  was  sold,  it  was  in  thine  own 
fiower ;  but  it  was  not  so  when  it  was  vowed,  thou 
hadst  then  opened  thy  mouth  to  the  Lord,  and 
couldest  not  go  back.”  Thus,  in  giving  our  hearts 
to  God,  we  are  not  permitted  to  divide  them.  Satan, 
like  the  mother,  whose  own  the  child  was  not,  would 
take  up  with  a  half ;  but  God  will  have  all  or  none. 

4.  All  this  guilt,  thus  aggravated,  is  charged  upon 
him  ;  Why  hast  thou  conceived  this  thine’  in  thine 
heart  ?  Observe,  Though  Satan  filled  his  heart  to  do 
it,  yet  he  is  said  to  have  conceived  it  in  his  own  heart ; 
which  shews  that  we  cannot  extenuate  our  sins,  by 
laying  the  fault  of  them  upon  the  Devil ;  he  tempts, 
but  he  cannot  force  ;  it  is  of  our  own  lusts  that  we 
are  drawn  away  and  enticed.  The  evil  thing,  what¬ 
ever  it  is,  that  is  said  or  done,  the  sinner  has  con¬ 
ceived  it  in  his  own  heart ;  and  therefore,  if  thou 
scornest,  thou  alone  shall  bear  it.  The  close  of  the 
charge  is  very  high,  but  very  just ;  Thou  hast  not 
lied  unto  men,  but  unto  God.  What  emphasis  does 
the  prophet  lay  upon  that  of  Ahaz  ;  not  wearying 
men  only,  but  wearying  my  God  also  !  Isa.  7.  13. 
And  Moses  upon  that  of  Israel ;  Your  murmurings 
are  not  against  us,  but  against  the  Lord  !  Exod.  16. 
8.  So  here,  Thou  mightest  have  imposed  upon  us, 
who  are  men  like  thyself ;  but,  be  not  deceived,  God 
is  not  mocked.  If  we  think  to  put  a  cheat  upon  God, 
we  shall  prove  in  the  end  to  have  put  a  fatal  cheat 
upon  our  own  souls. 

III.  The  death  and  burial  of  Ananias,  v.  5,  6. 

1.  He  died  upon  the  spot ;  Ananias,  hearing  these 
words,  was  sfeechless,  in  the  same  sense  that  he 
was,  who  was  charged  with  intruding  i,nto  the  wed¬ 
ding  feast  without  a  wedding  garment,  he  had  no¬ 
thing  to  say  for  himself,  but  that  was  not  all,  he  was 
struck  speechless  with  a  witness,  for  he  was  struck 
dead  ;  he  fell  down,  and  gave  uf  the  ghost.  It  does 
not  appear  whether  Peter  designed  and  expected 
that  this  would  follow  upon  what  he  said  to  him  ;  it 
it  probable  that  he  did,  for  to  Suffhira  his  wife,  Pe¬ 
ter  particularly  spake  death,  v.  9.  Some  think  that 
an  angel  struck  him,  that  he  died,  as  Herod,  ch.  12. 
23.  Or,  his  own  conscience  smote  him  with  such 
horror  and  amazement  at  the  sense  of  his  guilt,  that 
he  sunk  and  died  away  under  the  load  of  it.  And 
perhaps,  when  he  was  convinced  of  lying  to  the 
Holy  Ghost,  he  remembered  the  unpardonableness 
of  the  blusfhemy  against  the  Holy  Ghost,  which 
struck  him  like  a  dagger  to  the  heart.  See  the 
power  of  the  word  of  God  in  the  mouth  of  the  apos¬ 
tles  !  As  it  was  to  some  a  savour  of  life  unto  life, 
so  it  was  to  others  a  savour  of  death  unto  death. 
As  there  are  those  whom  the  gospel  justifies,  so 
there  are  those  whom  it  condemns. 

1  bis  punishment  of  Ananias  may  seem  severe, 
but  we  are  sure  it  was  just.  (1.)  It  was  designed  to 
maintain  the  honour  of  the  Holy  Ghost  as  now  lately 
] ioured  out  ufon  the  afostles,  in  order  to  the  setting 
up  of  the  gospel-kingdom.  It  was  a  great  affront 
which  Ananias  put  upon  the  Holy  Ghost,  as  if  he 
could  be  imposed  upon  :  and  it  had  a  direct  tenden¬ 
cy  to  invalidate  the  apostles’  testimony  ;  for  if  they 
could  not  by  the  Spirit  discover  this  fraud,  how  could 
they  by  the  Sfirit  discover  the  deef  things  of  God, 
which  they  were  to  reveal  to  the  children  of  men  ? 
It  was  therefore  necessary  that  the  credit  of  the 
apostles’  gifts  and  powers  be  supported,  though  it 
was  at  this  expense.  (2.)  It  was  designed  to  deter 
others  from  the  like  presumptions,  now  at  the  be¬ 
ginning  of  this  dispensation.  Simon  Magus  after¬ 
ward  was  not  thus  punished,  nor  Elymas  ;  but  Ana¬ 
nias  was  made  an  example  now  at  first,  that  with 
the  sensible  proofs  given  what  a  comfortable  tiling 
it  is  to  receive  the  Sfirit,  there  might  be  also  sensible 
proofs  given  what  a  dangerous  thing  it  i-s  to  resist  the 
Sfirit,  and  do  desfite  to  him.  How  severelv  was 


the  worshiffing  of  the  golden  calf  punished,  and  the 
gathering  of  the  sticks  on  the  sabbath-day,  when  the 
laws  of  the  second  and  fourth  commandment  were 
now  newly  given  !  So  was  the  offering  of  strange 
fre  by  jYadab  and  Abiliu,  and  the  mutiny  ofKorah 
and  his  comfany,  when  the  fire  from  heaven  was 
now  newly  given,  and  the  authority  of  Moses  and 
Aaron  now  newly  established. 

The  doing  of  this  by  the  ministry  of  Peter,  who 
himself  with  a  lie  denied  his  Master  but  a  while 
ago,  intimates  that  it  was  not  the  resentment  of  a 
wrong  done  to  himself,  for  then  he,  who  had  him¬ 
self  been  faulty,  would  have  had  charity  for  them 
that  offended  ;  and  he,  who  himself  had  repented 
and  been  forgiven,  would  have  forgiven  this  affront, 
and  endeavoured  to  bring  this  offender  to  repent- 
'ance ;  but  it  was  the  act  of  the  Sf  irit  of  God  in  Pe¬ 
ter,  to  him  the  indignity  was  done,  and  by  him  the 
punishment  was  inflicted. 

2.  He  was  buried  immediately,  for  that  was  the 
manner  of  the  Jews  ;  (v.  6.)  The  young  men,  who, 
it  is  probable,  were  appointed  to  that  office  in  the 
church  of  burying  the  dead,  as  among  the  Romans 
the  libitinarii  and  follinctorcs ;  or  the  young  men 
that  attended  the  apostles,  and  waited  on  them,  they 
wound  uf  the  dead  body  in  grave-clothes,  carried 
it  out  of  the  city,  and.buried  it  decently,  though  he 
died  in  sin,  and  by  an  immediate  stroke  of  divine 
vengeance. 

IV.  The  reckoning  with  Saffhira,  the  wife  of 
Ananias,  who  perhaps  was  first  in  the  transgression, 
and  tempted  her  husband  to  eat  this  forbidden  fruit. 
She  came  in  to  the  place  where  the  apostles  were, 
which,  as  it  should  seem,  was  Solomon’s  forch,  for 
there  we  find  them,  (i’-  12.)  a  part  of  the  temple 
where  Christ  used  to  walk,  John  10.  23.  She  came 
in  about  three  hours  after,  expecting  to  share  in  the 
thanks  of  the  house,  tor  her  coming  in,  and  consent¬ 
ing  to  the  sale  of  the  land,  of  which  perhaps  she 
was  entitled  to  her  dower  or  thirds  ;  for  she  knew 
not  what  was  done.  It  was  strange  that  nobod)-  ran 
to  tell  her  of  the  sudden  death  of  her  husband,  that 
she  might  keep  away  ;  perhaps  they  did,  and  she 
was  not  at  home  ;  and  so  when  she  came  to  present 
herself  before  the  apostles  as  a  benefactor  to  the 
fund,  she  met  with  a  breach  instead  of  a  blessing. 

1.  She  was  found  guilty  of  sharing  with  her  hus¬ 
band  in  his  sin,  by  a  question  that  Peter  asked  her  ; 
(x>.  8.)  Tell  me  whether  ye  sold  the  land  for  so 
much?  Namingthesum  which  Ananias  had  brought 
and  laid  at  the  afostles’  feet.  “Was  that  all  you  re¬ 
ceived  for  the  sale  of  the  land,  and  had  you  no  more 
for  it  ?”  “No,”  saith  she,  “  we  had  no  more,  but 
that  was  every  farthing  we  received.”  Ananias  and 

I  his  wife  agreed  to  tell  the  same  story,  and,  the  bar¬ 
gain  being  private,  and  by  consent  kept  to  them¬ 
selves,  nobody  could  disprove  them,  and  therefore 
they  thought  they  might  safely  stand  in  the  lie,  and 
should  gain  credit  to  it.  It  is  sad  to  see  those  rela¬ 
tions  who  should  quicken  one  another  to  that  which 
is  good,  harden  one  another  in  that  which  is  evil. 

2.  Sentence  is  past  upon  her,  that  she  should  par¬ 
take  in  her  husband’s  doom,  v.  9. 

(1.)  Her  sin  is  opened;  How  is  it  that  ye  have 
agreed  together  to  tern  ft  the  Sfirit  of  the  Lord  ? 
Before  he  passes  sentence,  he  makes  her  to  know 
her  abominations,  and  shews  her  the  evil  of  her  sin. 

[1.]  That  they  tern f  fed  the  Sfirit  of  the  Lord ; 
as  Israel  tempted  God  in  the  desert,  when  they  said, 
Is  the  Lord  among  us?  Or  is  he  not?  After  they 
had  seen  so  many  miraculous  proofs  of  his  power, 
and  not  onlv  his  presence,  but  his  presidency,  when 
they  said.  Can  God  furnish  a  table?  So  here,  “Can 
the  Spirit  in  the  apostles  discover  this  fraud  ?  Can 
they  discern  that  this  is  but  a  fart  of  the  f  rice,  wdien 
we  tell  them  it  is  the  whole?  Can  he  judge  through 
this  dark  cloud?”  Job  22.  13.  They  saw  they  had 


THE  ACTS,  V. 


49 


the  gift  of  tongues  ;  but  had  they  the  gift  oi discern¬ 
ing  spirits  ?  Those  that  presume  upon  security  and  , 
impunity  in  sin,  tempt  the  Spirit  of  God  ;  they  tempt  j 
God  as  if  he  were  altogether  such  a  one  as  them- 
selves. 

[2.]  That  they  agreed  together  to  do  it ;  making 
the  bond  of  their  relation  to  each  other  (which  by  J 
the  divine  institution  is  a  sacred  tie)  to  become  a 
bond  of  iniquity.  It  is  hard  to  say  which  is  worse 
between  yoke-fellows  and  other  relations — a  discord 
in  good,  or  concord  in  evil.  It  seems  to  intimate 
that  their  agreeing  together  to  do  it,  was  a  further  j 
tempting  of  the  Spirit ;  as  if  when  they  had  engaged 
to  keep  one  another’s  counsel  in  this  matter,  even  t 
the  Spirit  of  the  Lord  himself  could  not  discover  i 
them.  Thus  they  digged  deep  to  hide  their  counsel 
from  the  Lord,  but  were  made  to  know  it  is  in  vain. 

“  How  is  it  that  you  are  thus  infatuated  !  What 
strange  stupidity  has  seized  you,  that  you  would  ven¬ 
ture  to  make  trial  of  that'  which  is"  past  dispute  ? 
How  is  it  that  you,  who  are  baptized  Christians,  do 
not  understand  yourselves  better  ?  How  durst  you 
run  so  great  a  risk  ?” 

(2.)  Her  doom  is  read;  Behold,  the  feet  of  them 
which  have  buried  thy  husband,  are  at  the  door  ; 
(perhaps  he  heard  them  coming,  or  knew  that  they 
could  not  be  long  ;)  and  they  shall  carry  thee  out. 
As  Adam  and  Eve,  who  agreed  to  eat  the  forbidden 
fruit,  were  turned  together  out  of  paradise  ;  so 
Ananias  and  Sapphira,  who  agreed  to  tempt  the 
Spirit  of  the  Lord,  were  together  chased  out  of  the 
world. 

The  sentence  executed  itself ;  there  needed  no 
executioner,  a  killing  power  went  along  with  Pe¬ 
ter’s  word,  as  sometimes  a  healing  power  did  ;  for 
the  God  in  whose  name  he  spake,  kills  and  makes 
alive  ;  and  out  o  f  his  mouth  (and  Peter  was  now  his 
mouth)  both  evil  and  good  proceed  ;  (v.  10.)  Then 
fell  she  down  straightway  at  his  feet.  Some  sinners 
God  makes  quick  work  with,  while  others  he  bears 
long  with  ;  for  which  difference,  doubtless,  there 
are  good  reasons  ;  but  he  is  not  accountable  to  us 
for  them.  She  heard  not  till  now  that  her  husband 
was  dead,  the  notice  of  which,  with  the  discovery 
of  her  sin,  and  the  sentence  of  death  passed  upon 
her,  struck  her  as  a  thunderbolt,  and  took  her  away 
as  with  a  whirlwind.  And  many  instances  there 
are  of  sudden  deaths,  which  are  not  to  be  looked 
upon  as  the  punishment  of  some  gross  sin,  like  this  ; 
we  must  not  think  that  all  who  die  suddenly,  are 
sinners  above  others  ;  perhaps  it  is  in  favour  to 
them,  that  they  have  a  quick  passage,  however,  it 
is  forewarning  to  all  to  be  always  ready.  But  here 
it  is  plain  that  it  was  in  judgment.  Some  put  the 
question  concerning  the  eternal  state  of  Ananias  and 
Sapphira,  and  incline  to  think  that  the  destruction 
of  the  flesh  was,  that  the  spirit  might  be  saved  in 
the  day  of  the  Lord  Jesus.  And  I  should  go  in  with 
that  charitable  opinion,  if  there  had  been  any  space 
given  them  to  repent,  as  there  was  to  that  incestu¬ 
ous  Corinthian.  But  secret  things  belong  not  to  us. 
It  is  said,  She  fell  down  at  Peter’s  feet ;  there  where 
she  should  have  laid  the  whole  price,  and  did  not, 
she  was  herself  laid,  as  it  were  to  make  up  the  de¬ 
ficiency.  The  young  men  that  had  the  care  of  fu¬ 
nerals,  coming  in,  found  her  dead;  and  it  is  not 
said,  They  wound  her  up,  as  they  did  Ananias,  but, 
They  carried  her  out  as  she  was,  and  buried  her  by 
her  husband ;  probably  an  inscription  was  set  over 
their  graves,  intimating  that  they  were  joint-monu¬ 
ments  of  divine  wrath  against  those  that  lie  to  the 
Holy  Ghost.  Some  ask  whether  the  apostles  kept 
the  money  which  they  did  bring,  and  concerning 
which  they  lied  ?  I  am  apt  to  think  they  did  ;  they 
had  not  the  superstition  of  those  who  said,  It  is  not 
lawful  for  us  to  put  it  into  the  treasury  :  for  unto 
the  pure  all  things  are  pure.  What  they  brought, 

Vol.  vi. — G 


was  not  polluted  to  them  that  they  brought  it  to  ; 
but  what  they  kept  back,  was  polluted  to  them  that 
kept  it  back.  Use  was  made  of  the  censers  of  Ko¬ 
ran’s  mutineers. 

V.  The  impression  that  this  made  upon  the  peo 
pie  ;  notice  is  taken  of  this  in  the  midst  of  the  story 
(y.  5.)  Great  fear  came  upon  all  that  heard  thes> 
things  ;  that  heard  what  Peter  said,  and  saw  what 
followed  ;  or  upon  all  that  heard  the  story  of  it ;  for, 
no  doubt,  it  was  all  the  talk  of  the  city.  And  again, 
(y.  ll.)  Great  fear  came  upon  all  the  church,  and 
upon  as  many  as  heard  these  things. 

1.  They  that  had  joined  themselves  to  the  church, 
were  hereby  struck  with  an  awe  of  God,  and  of  his 
judgments,  and  with  a  greater  veneration  of  this 
dispensation  of  the  Spirit  which  they  were  now  un¬ 
der.  It  was  not  a  damp  or  check  to  their  holy  joy, 
but  it  taught  them  to  be  serious  in  it,  and  to  rejoice 

!  with  trembling.  All  that  laid  their  money  at  the 
apostles’  feet  after  this,  were  afraid  of  keeping  back 
any  part  of  the  price. 

2.  All  that  heard  it,  were  put  into  a  consternation 
by  it,  and  were  ready  to  say,  Who  is  able  to  stand 
before  this  holy  Lord  God,  and  his  Spirit  in  the 
apostles?  As  1  Sam.  6.  20. 

12.  And  by  the  hands  of  the  apostles 
were  many  signs  and  wonders  wrought 
among  the  people  ;  (and  they  were  all  with 
one  accord  in  Solomon's  porch.  1 3.  And 
of  the  rest  durst  no  man  join  himself  to 
them  :  but  the  people  magnified  them.  14. 
And  believers  were  the  more  added  to  the 
Lord,  multitudes  both  of  men  and  women.) 
15.  Insomuch  that  they  brought  forth  the 
sick  into  the  streets,  and  laid  them  on  beds 
and  couches,  that  at  the  least,  the  shadow 
of  Peter  passing  by  might  overshadow  some 
of  them.  16.  There  came  also  a  multitude 
out  of  the  cities  round  about  unto  Jerusa¬ 
lem,  bringing  sick  folks,  and  them  which 
were  vexed  with  unclean  spirits :  and  they 
were  healed  every  one. 

We  have  here  an  account  of  the  progress  of  the 
gospel,  notwithstanding  this  terrible  judgment  in¬ 
flicted  upon  two  hypocrites. 

I.  Here  is  a  general  account  of  the  miracles  which 
the  apostles  wrought ;  (x\  12.)  By  the  hands  of  the 
apostles  were  many  signs  and  wonders  wrought 
among  the  people  ;  many  miracles  of  mercy  for  one 
of  judgment.  Now  the  gospel-power  returned  to 
its  proper  channel,  which  is  that  of  mercy  and 
grace.  God  had  come  out  of  his  place  to  punish, 
but  now  returns  to  his  place,  to  his  mercy-seat 
again.  The  miracles  they  wrought  proved  their 
divine  mission  ;  thev  were  not  a  few,  but  many,  of 
divers  kinds  and  often  repeated ;  they  were  signs 
and  wonders,  such  wonders  as  were  confessedly 
signs  of  a  divine  presence  and  power ;  they  were 
not  done  in  a  corner,  but  among  the  people,  who 
were  at  liberty  to  inquire  into  them,  and,  if  there 
had  been  any  fraud  or  collusion  in  them,  would  have 
discovered  it. 

II.  We  are  here  told  what  were  the  effects  of 
these  miracles  which  the  apostles  wrought. 

1.  The  church  was  hereby  kept  together,  and 
confirmed  in  its  adherence  both  to  the  apostles,  and 
to  one  another  ;  They  of-  the  church  were  all  with 
one  accord  in  Solomon’s  porch. 

(1.)  They  met  in  the  temple,  in  the  open  place 
that  was  called  Solomon’s  porch.  It  was  strange 
that  the  rulers  of  the  temple  suffered  them  to  keep 


oO 


THE  ACTS,  V. 


their  meeting  there.  But  God  inclined  their  hearts 
to  tolerate  them  there  a  while,  for  the  more  conve¬ 
nient  spreading  of  the  gospel  ;  and  they  who  per¬ 
mitted  buyers  and  sellers,  could  not  for  shame  pro¬ 
hibit  such  preachers  and  healers  there.  They  all 
met  in  public-worship  ;  so  early  is  the  institution  of 
religious  assemblies  observed  in  the  church,  which 
must  by  no  means  be  forsaken  or  let  fall,  for  in  them 
a  profession  of  religion  is  kept  up. 

(2. )  They  were  there  with  one  accord ,  unanimous 
in  their  doctrine,  worship,  and  discipline  ;  and  there 
w'as  no  discontent  or  murmuring  about  the  death  of 
Ananias  and  Sapphira,  as  there  was  against  Moses 
and  Aaron,  about  the  death  of  Ivorah  and  his  com¬ 
pany  ;  Ye  have  killed  the  people  of  the  Lord,  Numb. 
16.  41.  The  separation  of  hypocrites  by  distinguish¬ 
ing  judgments,  should  make  the  sincere  cleave  so 
much  the  closer  to  each  other  and  to  the  gospel- 
ministry. 

2.  It  gained  the  apostles  very  great  respect,  who 
were  the  prime  ministers  of  state  in  Christ’s  king¬ 
dom. 

(1.)  The  other  ministers  kept  their  distance  ;  Of 
the  rest  of  their  company  durst  no  man  join  himself 
to  them,  as  their  equal  or  an  associate  with  them  ; 
though  others  of  them  were  endued  with  the  Holy 
Ghost,  and  spake  with  tongues,  yet  none  of  them  at 
this  time  did  such  signs  and  wonders  as  the  apostles 
did :  and  therefore  they  acknowledged  their  supe¬ 
riority,  and  in  every  thing  yielded  to  them. 

(2. )  All  the  people  magnified  them,  and  had  them 
in  great  veneration  ;  spake  of  them  with  respect, 
and  represented  them  as  the  favourites  of  Heaven, 
and  unspeakable  blessings  to  this  earth.  Though 
the  chief  priests  vilified  them,  and  did  all  they  could 
to  make  them  contemptible,  that  did  not  hinder  the 
people  from  magnifying  them,  who  saw  the  thing 
in  a  true  light.  Observe,  The  apostles  were  far 
from  magnifying  themselves,  they  transmitted  the 
glory  of  all  they  did  very  carefully  and  faithfully  to 
Christ,  and  yet  the  people  magnified  them  ;  for  they 
that  humble  themselves  shall  be  exalted,  and  those 
honoured,  that  honour  God  only. 

3.  The  church  increased  in  number  ;  (i\  14.)  Be¬ 
lievers  were  the  more  added  to  the  Lord,  and,  no 
doubt,  joined  themselves  to  the  church,  when  they 
saw  that  God  was  in  it  of  a  truth,  even  multitudes 
both  of  men  and  women.  They  were  so  far  from 
being  deterred  by  the  example  that  was  made  of 
Ananias  and  Sapphira,  that  they  were  rather  invited 
by  it  into  a  society  that  kept  such  a  strict  discipline. 
Observe, 

(1.)  Bcliex'ers  are  added  to  the  Lord  Jesus,  joined 
to  him,  and  so  joined  in  his  mystical  body,  from 
which  nothing  can  separate  us  and  cut  us  off,  but 
that  which  separates  us  and  cuts  us  off  from  Christ. 
Many  have  been  brought  to  the  Lord,  and  yet  there 
is  room  for  others  to  be  added  to  him,  added  to  the 
number  of  those  that  are  united  to  him  ;  and  addi¬ 
tions  will  still  be  making  till  the  mystery  of  God 
shall  be  finished,  and  the  number  of  the  elect  ac¬ 
complished. 

(2.)  Notice  is  taken  of  the  conversion  of  women  as 
well  as  men  ;  more  notice  than  generally  was  in  the 
Jewish  church,  in  which  they  neither  received  the 
sign  of  circumcision,  nor  were  obliged  to  attend  the 
solemn  feasts  ;  and  the  court  of  the  women  was  one 
of  the  outer  courts  of  the  temple.  But,  as  among 
those  that  followed  Christ  while  he  was  upon  earth, 
so  among  those  that  believed  on  him  after  he  went 
to  heaven,  great  notice  was  taken  of  the  good  wo¬ 
men. 

4.  The  apostles  had  abundance  of  patients,  and 
gained  abundance  of  reputation  both  to  them  and 
their  doctrine,  by  the  cure  of  them  all,  v.  15,  16. 
So  many  signs  and  wonders  were  wrought  by  the 
apostles,  that  all  manner  of  people  put  in  for  the 


benefit  of  them,  both  in  city  and  country,  and 
had  it. 

(1.)  In  the  city:  They  brought  forth  their  sick 
into  the  streets,  for  it  is  probable  that  the  priesis 
would  not  suffer  them  to  bring  them  into  the  tern 
pie  to  Solomon’s  porch,  and  the  apostles  had  not 
leisure  to  come  to  the  houses  of  them  all.  And  they 
laid  them  on  beds  and  couches,  because  they  were 
so  weak,  that  they  could  neither  go  nor  stand,  that 
at  the  least  the  shadow  of  Peter,  passing  by,  mitrht 
overshadow  sojneof  them,  though  it  could  not  reach 
them  all  ;  and,  it  should  seem,  it  had  the  desired 
effect,  as  the  woman’s  touch  of  the  hem  of  Christ’s 
garment  had  ;  and  in  this,  among  other  things,  that 
word  of  Christ  was  fulfilled,  Greater  works  than 
these  shall  ye  do.  God  expresses  his  care  of  his 
people,  by  his  being  their  shade  on  their  right  hand; 
and  the  benign  influences  of  Christ  as  a  King,  are 
compared  to  the  shadow  of  a  great  rock.  Peter 
comes  between  them  and  the  sun,  and  so  heals  them, 
cuts  them  off  from  a  dependence  upon  creature  suf¬ 
ficiency  as  insufficient,  that  they  may  expect  help 
only  from  that  Spirit  of  grace  with  whom  he  was 
filled.  And  if  such  miracles  were  wrought  by  Pe¬ 
ter’s  shadow,  we  have  reason  to  think  they  were  so 
by  the  other  apostles,  as  by  the  handkerchiefs  from 
Paul’s  body  ;  (c/2.  19.  12.)  no  doubt,  both  being  with 
an  actual  intention  in  the  minds  of  the  apostles  thus 
to  heal  ;  so  that  it  is  absurd  hence  to  infer  a  healing 
virtue  in  the  relics  of  saints  that  are  dead  and  gone  ; 
we  read  not  of  any  cured  by  the  relics  of  Christ  him¬ 
self,  after  he  was  gone,  as  certainly  we  should,  if 
there  had  been  any  such  thing. 

(2.)  In  the  country-towns  ;  multitudes  came  to 
Jerusalem  from  the  cities  round  about,  bringing  sick 
folks  that  were  afflicted  in  body,  and  them  that  were 
vexed  with  unclean  spirits,  that  were  troubled  in 
mind,  and  they  were  healed  every  one  ;  distempered 
bodies  and  distempered  minds  were  set  to  rights. 
Thus  opportunity  was  given  to  the  apostles,  both  to 
convince  people’s  judgments  by  these  miracles,  of 
the  heavenly  original  of  the  doctrine  they  preached; 
and  also  to  engage  people’s  affections  both  to  them 
and  it,  by  giving  them  a  specimen  of  its  beneficial 
tendency  to  the  welfare  of  this  lower  world. 

17.  Then  the  High-Priest  rose  up,  and 
all  they  that  were  with  him,  (which  is  the 
sect  of  the  Sadducees,)  and  were  filled  with 
indignation,  18.  And  laid  their  hands  on 
the  apostles,  and  put  them  in  the  common 
prison.  19.  But  the  angel  of  the  Lord  by 
night  opened  the  prison-doors,  and  brought 
them  forth,  and  said,  20.  Go,  stand  and 
speak  in  the  temple  to  the  people,  all  the 
words  of  this  life.  21.  And  when  they 
heard  that ,  they  entered  into  the  temple 
early  in  the  morning,  and  taught.  But  the 
High-Priest  came,  and  they  that  were  with 
him,  and  called  the  council  together,  and 
all  the  senate  of  the  children  of  Israel,  and 
sent  to  the  prison  to  have  them  brought. 
22.  But  when  the  officers  came,  and  found 
them  not  in  the  prison,  they  returned,  and 
told,  23.  Saying,  The  prison  truly  found 
we  shut  with  all  safety,  and  the  keepers 
standing  without  before  the  doors:  but 
when  we  had  opened,  we  found  no  man 
within.  24.  Now  when  the  High-Priest, 
and  the  captain  of  the  temple,  and  the 


THE  ACTS,  V 


Chief  Priests,  heard  these  things,  they 
doubted  of  them  whereunto  this  would 
grow.  25.  Then  came  one  and  told  them, 
saying,  Behold,  the  men  whom  ye  put  in 
prison  are  standing  in  the  temple,  and 
teaching  the  people. 

Never  did  any  good  work  go  on  with  any  hope  of 
success,  but  it  met  with  opposition  ;  they  that  are 
bent  to  do  mischief,  cannot  be  reconciled  to  them 
who  make  it  their  business  to  do  good.  Satan,  the 
destroyer  of  mankind,  ever  was,  and  will  be,  an  ad¬ 
versary  to  those  who  are  the  benefactors  of  man¬ 
kind  ;  and  it  would  have  been  strange,  if  the  apos¬ 
tles  had  gone  on  thus  teaching  and  healing,  and  had 
had  no  check.  In  these  verses  we  have  the  malice 
of  hell  and  the  grace  of  heaven  struggling  about 
them  ;  the  one  to  drive  them  off  from  this  good 
work,  the  other  to  animate  them  in  it. 

I.  The  priests  were  enraged  at  them,  and  clapt 
them  up  in  prison,  v.  17,  18.  Observe, 

1.  Who  their  enemies  and  persecutors  were.  The 
High-Priest  was  the  ringleader,  Annas  or  Caiaphas, 
who  saw  their  wealth  and  dignity,  their  power  and 
tyranny,  that  is,  their  all,  at  stake,  and  inevitably 
lost,  if  the  spiritual  and  heavenly  doctrine  of  Christ 
get  ground  and  prevail  among  the  people.  Those 
that  were  most  forward  to  join  with  the  High-Priest 
herein,  were  the  sect  of  the  Sadclucees,  who  had  a 
particular  enmity  to  the  gospel  of  Christ,  because  it 
confirmed  and  established  the  doctrine  of  the  invisi¬ 
ble  world,  the  resurrection  of  the  dead,  and  the  fu¬ 
ture  state,  which  they  denied.  It  is  not  strange  if 
men  of  no  religion  be  bigoted  in  their  opposition  to 
true  and  pure  religion. 

2.  How  they  were  affected  toward  them ;  ill  af¬ 
fected,  and  exasperated  to  the  last  degree  ;  when 
they  heard  and  saw  what  flocking  there  was  to  the 
apostles,  and  how  considerable  they  were  become, 
they  rose  up  in  a  passion,  as  men  that  could  no 
longer  bear  it,  and  were  resolved  to  make  head 
against  it,  bdm^JUlcd  with  indignation  at  the  apos¬ 
tles  for  preaching  the  doctrine  of  Christ,  and  curing 
the  sick  ;  at  the  people  for  hearing  them,  and  bring¬ 
ing  the  sick  to  them  to  be  cured  ;  and  at  themselves 
and  their  own  party,  for  suffering  this  matter  to  go 
so  far,  and  not  knocking  it  on  the  head  at  first.  Thus 
are  the  enemies  of  Christ  and  his  gospel  a  torment 
to  themselves.  Envy  slays  the  silly  one. 

3.  How  they  proceeded  against  them  ;  (v.  18.) 
They  laid  their  hands  on  them,  perhaps  their  own 
hands,  (so  low  did  their  malice  make  them  stoop,) 
or,  rather,  the  hands  of  their  officers,  and  fiat  them 
in  the  common  firison,  among  the  worst  of  malefac¬ 
tors.  Hereby  they  designed,  (1.)  To  put  a  restraint 
upon  them  ;  though  they  could  not  lay  any  thing 
criminal  to  their  charge,  worthy  of  death  or  of 
bonds,  yet  while  they  had  them  in  prison,  they  kept 
them  from  going  on  in  their  work,  and  that  they 
reckoned  a  good  point  gained.  Thus  early  were  the 
ambassadors  of  Christ  in  bonds.  (2.)  To  put  a  ter¬ 
ror  upon  them,  and  so  to  drive  them  off  from  their 
work ;  the  last  time  they  had  them  before  them, 
they  had  onlv  threatened  them;  (ch.  4.  21.)  but 
now,  finding  that  did  not  do,  they  imprisoned  them, 
to  make  them  afraid  of  them.  (3.)  To  put  a  dis¬ 
grace  upon  them,  and  therefore  they  chose  to  clap 
them  up  in  the  common  prison,  that,  being  thus 
vilified,  the  people  might  not,  as  they  had  done, 
magnify  them.  Satan  has  carried  on  his  design 
against  the  gospel  very  much  by  making  the 
preachers  and  professors  of  it  despicable. 

II.  God  sent  his  angel  to  release  them  out  of  pri¬ 
son,  and  to  renew  their  commission  to  preach  the 
gospel ;  the  powers  of  darkness  fight  against  them, 
but  the  Father  of  lights  fights  for  them  and  sends 


an  angel  of  light  to  plead  their  cause.  The  Lord 
will  never  desert  his  witnesses,  his  advocates,  but 
will  certainly  stand  by  them,  and  bear  them  out. 

1.  The  apostles  are  discharged,  legally  discharged, 
from  their  imprisonment ;  (v.  19.)  The  angel  of  the 
Lord  by  night,  in  spite  of  all  the  locks  and  bars  that 
were  upon  them,  opened  the  prison-doors,  and,  in 
spite  of  all  the  vigilance  and  resolution  of  the  keepei  s 
that  stood  without  before  the  doors,  brought  forth 
the  prisoners,  (see  v.  23.)  gave  them  authority  to  go 
out  without  crime,  and  led  them  through  all  opposi¬ 
tion.  This  deliverance  is  not  so  particularly  related 
as  that  of  Peter;  (ch.  12.  7,  itfc.)  but  the  miracle 
here  was  the  very  same.  Note,  There  is  no  prison 
so  dark,  so  strong,  but  God  can  both  visit  his  people 
in  it,  and,  if  he  pleases,  fetch  them  out  of  it.  The 
discharge  of  the  apostles  out  of  prison  by  an  angel, 
was  a  resemblance  cf  Christ’s  resurrection,  and 
his  discharge  cut  of  the  prison  cf  the  grave,  and 
would  help  to  confirm  the  apostles’  preaching  of  it. 

2.  They  are  charged,  and  legally  charged,  to  go 
on  with  their  work,  s«  as  thereby  to  be  discharged 
from  the  prohibition  which  the  High-Priest  laid 
them  under;  the  angel  bid  them,  Go,  stand,  and 
speak  in  the  temple  to  the  people  all  the  words  of  this 
life,  v.  20.  When  they  were  miraculously  set  at 
liberty,  they  must  not  think  it  was  that  they  might 
save  their  lives  by  making  their  escape  out  of  the 
hands  of  their  enemies.  No ;  it  was  that  they 
might  go  on  with  their  work  with  so  much  the  more 
boldness.  Recoveries  from  sickness,  releases  out 
of  trouble,  are  granted  us,  and  are  to  be  looked  upon 
by  us  as  granted,  not  that  we  may  enjoy  the  comforts 
of  our  life,  but  that  God  may  be  honoured  with  the 
services  of  our  life.  Let  my  soul  live,  and  it  shall 
praise  thee,  Ps.  119.  175.  Bring  my  soul  out  of 
prison,  (as  the  apostle  here,)  that  I  may  praise  thy 
name,  Ps.  142.  7.  See  Isa.  38.  22. 

Now  in  this  charge  given  them,  observe,  (1.) 
Where  they  must  preach  ;  Speak  in  the  temple. 
One  would  think,  though  they  might  not  quit  their 
work,  yet  it  had  been  prudence  to  go  on  with  it  in 
a  more  private  place,  where  it  would  give  less  of¬ 
fence  to  the  priests  than  in  the  temple,  and  so  would 
the  less  expose  them.  No  ;  “  Speak  in  the  temple, 
for  that  is  the  place  of  concourse,  that  is  your  Fa¬ 
ther’s  house,  and  is  not  to  be  as  yet  quite  left  deso¬ 
late .”  It  is  not  for  the  preachers  of  Christ’s  gospel 
to  retire  into  corners,  as  long  as  they  can  have  any 
opportunity  of  preaching  in  the  great  congregation. 
(2.)  To  whom  they  must  preach;  “  Speak  to  the 
people  ;  not  to  the  princes  and  rulers,  for  they  will 
not  hearken  ;  but  to  the  people,  who  are  willing  and 
desirous  to  be  taught,  and  whose  souls  are  as  precious 
to  Christ,  and  ought  to  be  so  to  you,  as  the  souls  of 
the  greatest.  Speak  to  the  people,  to  all  in  general, 
for  all  are  concerned.”  (3.)  How  they  must  preach  ; 
Go,  stand,  and  speak :  which  intimates,  not  only 
that  they  must  speak  publicly,  Stand  up,  and  speak, 
that  all  may  hear  ;  but  that  they  must  speak  boldlv 
and  resolutely,  Stand,  and  speak  ;  that  is,  “  Speak 
it  as  those  that  resolve  to  stand  to  it,  to  live  and  die 
by  it.”  (4.)  What  they  must  speak  ;  all  the  words 
of  this  life.  This  life  which  you  have  been  speaking 
of  among  yourselves  ;  referring  perhaps  to  the  con¬ 
ferences  concerning  heaven,  which  they  had  among 
themselves  for  their  own  and  one  another’s  encour¬ 
agement  in  prison  ;  “  Go,  and  preach  the  same  to 
the  world,  that  others  may  be  comforted  with  the 
same  comforts  with  which  you  yourselves  are  com 
forted  of  God.”  Or,  “of  this  life  which  the  Saddu 
cees  deny,  and  therefore  persecute  you ;  preach 
that,  though  you  know  that  is  it  which  they  have 
indignation  at.”  Or,  “of  this  life  emphatically; 
this  heavenly,  divine  life,  in  comparison  with  which 
the  present  earthly  life  does  not  deserve  the  name.” 
Or,  “  these  words  of  life,  the  very  same  you  have 


52 


THE  ACTS,  V. 


preached,  these  words  which  the  Holy  Ghost  puts 
into  your  mouth.”  Note,  The  words  of  the  gos¬ 
pel  are  the  words  of  life  ;  quickening  words  ;  they 
are  spirit,  and  they  are  life  ;  words  whereby  we 
may  be  saved  ;  that  is  the  same  with  this  here,  ch. 

11.  14.  The  gospel  is  the  word  of  this  life  ;  for 
it  secures  to  us  the  privileges  of  our  way  as  well  as 
those  of  our  home,  and  the  promises  of  the  life  that 
now  is  as  well  as  of  that  to  come.  And  yet  even 
spiritual  and  eternal  life  are  brought  so  much  to 
light  in  the  gospel,  that  they  may  be  called  this  life  ; 
for  the  word  is  nigh  thee.  Note,  The  gospel  .s  con¬ 
cerning  matters  of  life  and  death,  and  ministers  must 
preach  it,  and  people  hear  it  accordingly.  They 
must  speak  all  the  words  of  this  life,  and  not  conceal 
any  for  fear  of  offending,  or  in  hope  of  ingratiating 
themselves  with,  their  rulers.  Christ’s  witnesses 
are  sworn  to  speak  the  whole  truth. 

III.  They  went  on  with  their  work  ;  (v.  21.) 
When  they  heard  that ;  when  they  heard  that  it  was 
the  will  of  God  that  they  should  continue  to  preach 
m  the  temple,  they  returned  to  Solomon’s  porch 
there,  v.  12. 

1.  It  was  a  great  satisfaction  to  them  to  have  these 
fresh  orders.  *  Perhaps,  they  began  to  question  whe¬ 
ther,  if  they  had  their  liberty,  they  should  preach 
as  publicly  in  the  temple  as  they  had  done,  because 
they  had  'been  bid,  when  they  were  persecuted  in 
one  city,  to  fee  to  another.  But  now  that  the  angel 
ordered  them  to  go  preach  in  the  temple,  their  way 
was  plain,  and  they  ventured  without  any  difficulty, 
entered  into  the  temple,  and  feared  not  the  face  of 
man.  Note,  If  we  may  but  be  satisfied  concerning 
our  duty,  our  business  is  to  keep  close  to  that,  and 
then  we  may  cheerfully  trust  God  with  our  safety. 

2.  They  set  themselves  immediately  to  execute 
them,  without  dispute  or  delay.  They  entered  into 
the  temple  early  in  the  morning,  (as  soon  as  the 
gates  were  opened,  and  people  began  to  come  to¬ 
gether  there,)  and  taught  them  the  gospel  of  the 
kingdom  ;  and  did  not  at  all  fear  what  man  could  do 
unto  them.  The  case  here  was  extraordinary,  the 
whole  treasure  of  the  gospel  is  lodged  in  their  hands  ; 
if  they  be  silent  now,  the  springs  are  shut  up,  and 
the  whole  work  falls  to  the  ground,  and  is  made  to 
cease  ;  which  is  not  the  case  of  ordinary  ministers, 
who  therefore  are  not  by  this  example  bound  to 
throw  themselves  into  the  mouth  of  danger  ;  and 
vet  when  God  gives  opportunity  of  doing  good, 
though  we  be  under  the  restraint  and  terror  of  hu¬ 
man  powers,  we  should  venture  far,  rather  than  let 
go  such  an  opportunity. 

IV.  The  High-Priest  and  his  party  went  on  with 
their  prosecution,  v.  21.  They,  suppposing  they 
had  the  apostles  sure  enough,  called  the  council  to¬ 
gether,  a  great  and  extraordinary  council,  for  they 
summoned  all  the  senate  of  the  children  of  Israel. 
See  here, 

1.  How  they  were  prepared,  and  how  big  with 
expectation,  to  crush  the  gospel  of  Christ  and  the 
preachers  of  it,  for  they  raised  the  whole  posse. 
The  last  time  they  had  the  apostles  in  custody,  they 
convened  them  only  before  a  committee  of  those 
that  were  of  the  kindred  of  the  High-Priest,  who 
were  obliged  to  act  cautiously  ;  but  now,  that  they 
might  proceed  further  and  with  more  assurance, 
they  called  together,  tromv  t«v  ytpuo-io.y — all  the  el¬ 
dership,  that  is,  (savs  Dr.  Lightfoot,)  all  the  three 
courts  or  benches  of  judges  in  Jerusalem,  not  only 
the  great  Sanhedrim,  consisting  of  seventy  elders, 
but  the  other  two  judicatories  that  were  erected  one 
in  the  outer  court  gate  of  the  temple,  the  other  in 
the  inner  or  beautiful  gate,  consisting  of  twenty- 
three  judges  each.  So  that  if  there  were  a  full  ap¬ 
pearance,  here  were  one  hundred  and  sixteen  judges. 
Thus  God  ordered  it,  that  the  confusion  of  the  ene¬ 
mies  might  be  more  public,  and  the  apostles’  testi¬ 


mony  against  them,  and  that  these  might  hear  the 
gospel,  who  would  not  hear  it  otherwise  than  fr<  m 
the  bar.  Howbeit,  the  High-Priest  meant  not  so, 
neither  did  his  heart  think  so  ;  but  it  was  in  his  heart 
to  rally  all  his  forces  against  the  apostles,  and  by  a 
universal  consent  to  cut  them  all  off  at  once. 

2.  How  they  were  disappointed,  and  had  their 
faces  filled  with  shame  ;  He  that  sits  in  heaven, 
laughs  at  them,  and  so  may  we  too,  to  see  how 
gravely  the  court  is  set ;  and  we  may  suppose  the 
High-Priest  makes  a  solemn  speech  to  them,  setting 
forth  the  occasion  of  their  coming  together  ;  that  a 
very  dangerous  faction  was  now  lately  raised  at  Je¬ 
rusalem,  by  the  preaching  of  the  doctrine  of  Jesus, 
which  it  was  needful,  for  the  preservation  of  their 
church,  (which  never  was  in  such  danger  as  now,) 
speedily  and  effectually  to  suppress  ;  that  it  was 
now  in  the  power  of  their  hands  to  do  it,  for  he  had 
the  ringleaders  of  the  faction  now  in  the  common 
prison,  to  be  proceeded  against,  if  they  would  but 
agree  to  it,  with  the  utmost  severity.  An  officer 
is,  in  order  hereunto,  dispatched  immediately  to 
fetch  the  prisoners  to  the  bar.  But  see  how  they 
are  baffled ; 

(1.)  The  officers  come,  and  tell  them  that  they  are 
not  to  be  found  in  the  prison,  v.  22,  23.  The  last 
time  they  were  forthcoming,  when  they  were  called 
for,  ch.  4.  7.  But  now  they  were  gone,  and  the  re¬ 
port  which  the  officers  make,  is,  “  The  prison-doors 
truly  found  we  sh  ut  with  all  sa  fety  (nothing  had 
been  done  to  weaken  them  ;)  ,(the  keepers  had  not 
been  wanting  to  their  duty  ;  we  found  them  standing 
without  before  the  doors,  and  knowing  nothing  to  the 
contrary7,  but  that  the  prisoners  were  all  safe  :  but 
when  we  went  in,  we  found  no  man  therein,  none 
of  the  men  we  were  sent  to  fetch.”  It  is  probable 
that  they  found  the  common  prisoners  there.  Which 
way  the  angel  fetched  them,  whether  by  some  back 
way,  or  opening  the  door,  and  fastening  it  close 
again,  (the  keepers  all  the  while  asleep,)  we  are  net 
told ;  however  it  was,  they  were  gone.  The  Lord 
knows,  though  we  do  not,  how  to  deliver  the  godly 
out  of  temptation,  and  how  to  loose  those  that  are  in 
bonds  for  his  name’s  sake,  and  he  will  do  it,  as  here, 
when  he  has  occasion  for  them. 

Now  think  how  blank  the  court  looked,  when  the 
officers  made  this  return  upon  their  order  ;  (v.  24.) 
JITien  the  High-Priest.,  and  the  captain  of  the  tem¬ 
ple,  and  the  chief  priests,  heard  those  things ,  they 
were  all  at  a  plunge,  and  looked  upon  one  another, 
doubting  what  this  thing  should  be.  They  were  ex¬ 
tremely  perplexed,  were  at  their  wit's- end,  having 
never  been  so  disappointed  in  all  their  lives,  of  a 
thing  they  were  so  sure  of.  It  occasioned  various 
speculations  ;  some  suggesting  that  they  were  con¬ 
jured  out  of  the  prison,  and  made  their  escape  by 
magic  arts  ;  others,  that  the  keepers  had  played 
tricks  with  them,  not  knowing  how  many  friends 
these  prisoners  had,  that  were  so  much  the  darlings 
of  the  people.  Some  feared  that,  having  made  such 
a  wonderful  escape,  they  would  be  the  more  fol¬ 
lowed  ;  others,  that  though  perhaps  they  had  fright¬ 
ened  them  from  Jerusalem,  they  should  hear  of 
them  again  in  some  part  or  other  of  the  country, 
where  they  would  do  yet  more  mischief,  and  it 
would  be  yet  more  out  of  their  power  to  stop  the 
spreading  of  the  infection  :  and  now  they  begin  to 
fear  that  instead  of  curing  the  ill,  they  have  made  it 
worse.  Note,  Those  often  distress  and  embarrass 
themselves,  that  think  to  distress  and  embarrass  the 
cause  o  f  Christ. 

(2.)  Their  doubt  is,  in  part,  determined  ;  and  yet 
their  vexation  is  increased  by  another  messenger, 
who  brings  them  word  that  their  prisoners  are 
preaching  in  the  temple  ;  (v.  25.)  “  Peho/d,  the  men 
whom  ye  put  in  prison,  and  have  sent  for  to  your  bar, 

;  are  now  hard  by  you  here,  standing  in  the  ti  tuple, 


53 


THE  ACTS,  V. 


under  your  nose,  and  in  defiance  of  you,  teaching  the 
people.  ”  Prisoners,  that  have  broken  prison,  ab¬ 
scond,  for  fear  of  being  retaken  :  but  these  prison¬ 
ers,  that  here  made  their  escape,  dare  to  shew  their 
faces  even  there  where  their  persecutors  have  the 
greatest  influence.  Now  this  confounded  them  more 
than  any  thing.  Common  malefactors  may  have 
art  enough  to  break  prison  ;  but  they  are  uncom¬ 
mon  ones,  that  have  courage  enough  to  avow  it  when 
they  have  done. 

26.  Then  went  the  captain  with  the  offi¬ 
cers,  and  brought  them  without  violence : 
for  they  feared  the  people,  lest  they  should 
have  been  stoned.  27.  And  when  they 
had  brought  them,  they  set  them  before  the 
council :  and  the  High-Priest  asked  them, 
28.  Saying,  Did  not  we  straitly  command 
you  that  ye  should  not  teach  in  this  name  ? 
And,  behold,  ye  have  filled  Jerusalem  with 
your  doctrine,  and  intend  to  bring  this 
man’s  blood  upon  us.  29.  Then  Peter  and 
the  other  apostles  answered  and  said,  We 
ought  to  obey  God  rather  than  men.  30. 
The  God  of  our  fathers  raised  up  Jesus, 
whom  ye  slew  and  hanged  on  a  tree.  31. 

/Him  hath  God  exalted  with  his  right  hand 
to  be  a  Prince  and  a  Saviour,  for  to  give 
repentance  to  Israel,  and  forgiveness  of 
sins.  32.  And  we  are  his  witnesses  of 
these  things  ;  and  so  is  also  the  Holy 
Ghost,  whom  God  hath  given  to  them  that 
obey  him.  33.  When  they  heard  that,  they 
were  cut  to  the  heart ,  and  took  council  to 
slay  them.  34.  Then  stood  there  one  up 
in  the  council,  a  Pharisee,  named  Gama¬ 
liel,  a  doctor  of  the  law,  had  in  reputation 
among  all  the  people,  and  commanded  to 
put  the  apostles  forth  a  little  space ;  35. 

And  said  unto  them,  Ye  men  of  Israel,  take 
heed  to  yourselves,  what  ye  intend  to  do  as 
touching  these  men.  36.  For  before  these 
days  stood  up  Theudas,  boasting  himself  to 
be  somebody ;  to  whom  a  number  of  men, 
about  four  hundred,  joined  themselves : 
who  was  slain  ;  and  all,  as  many  as  obey¬ 
ed  him,  were  scattered,  and  brought  to 
nought.  37.  After  this  man  rose  up  Judas 
of  Galilee  in  the  days  of  the  taxing,  and 
drew  away  much  people  after  him  :  he  also 
perished  ;  and  all,  even  as  many  as  obeyed 
him,  were  dispersed.  38.  And  now  I  say 
unto  you,  Refrain  from  these  men,  and  let 
them  alone  :  for  if  this  counsel  or  this  work 
be  of  men,  it  will  come  to  nought :  39. 

But  if  it  be  of  God,  ye  cannot  overthrow 
it;  lest  haply  ye  be  found  even  to  fight 
against  God.  40.  And  to  him  they  agreed  : ! 
and  when  they  had  called  the  apostles, ; 
and  beaten  them ,  they  commanded  that 
they  should  not  speak  in  the  name  of  Jesus,  jj 
arid  let  them  go.  41.  And  they  departed 
horn  ihe  presence  of  the  council,  rejoicing  !! 


that  they  were  counted  worthy  to  suffer 
shame  for  his  name.  42.  And  daily  in  the 
temple,  and  in  every  house,  they  ceased 
not  to  teach  and  preach  Jesus  Christ. 

We  are  not  told  what  it  was  that  the  apostles 
preached  to  the  people  ;  no  doubt,  it  was,  according 
to  the  direction  of  the  angel,  the  words  of  this  life  ; 
but  what  passed  between  them  and  the  council,  we 
have  here  an  account  of  ;  for  in  their  sufferings  there 
appeared  more  of  a  divine  power  and  energy  than 
even  in  their  preaching.  Now  here  we  have, 

I.  The  seizing  of  the  apostles  a  second  time.  We 
may  think,  if  God  designed  this,  “Why  were  they 
rescued  from  their  first  imprisonment  ?”  But  that 
was  designed  to  humble  the  pride,  and  check  the 
fury,  of  their  persecutors  ;  and  now  he  would  shew 
that  they  were  discharged  ;  not  because  they  feared 
a  trial,  for  they  were  ready  to  surrender  themselves, 
and  make  their  appearance  before  the  greatest  of 
their  enemies. 

1.  They  brought  them  without  violence,  with  all 
the  respect  and  tenderness  that  could  be  :  did  not 
pull  them  out  of  the  pulpit,  nor  bind  them,  or  drag 
them  along,  but  accosted  them  respectfully.  One 
would  think  they  had  reason  to  do  so,  in  reverence 
to  the  temple,  that  holy  place,  and  for  fear  of  the 
apostles,  lest  they  should  strike  them,  as  they  did 
Ananias,  or  call  for  fire  from  heaven  upon  them,  as 
Elias  did  ;  but  all  that  restrained  their  violence, 
was,  their  fear  of  the  people ,  who  had  such  a  vene¬ 
ration  for  the  apostles,  that  they  would  stone  them 
if  they  offered  them  any  abuse. 

2.  Yet  they  brought  them  to  those  who,  they  knew, 
were  violent  against  them,  and  were  resolved  to  take 
violent  courses  with  them;  ( v .  27.)  They  brought 
them,  to  set  them  before  the  council,  as  delinquents. 
Thus  the  powers  that  should  have  been  a  terror  to 
evil  works  and  workers,  became  so  to  the  good. 

II.  Their  examination  ;  being  brought  before  this 
august  assembly,  the  High-Priest,  as  the  mouth  of 
the  court,  told  them  what  it  was  they  had  to  lay  to 
their  charge,  v.  28. 

1.  That  they  had  disobeyed  the  commands  of  au¬ 
thority,  and  would  not  submit  to  the  injunctions  and 
prohibitions  given  them  ;  ( v .  28.)  “  Did  not  we,  by 
virtue  of  our  authority,  straitly  charge  and  command 
you,  upon  pain  of  our  highest  displeasure,  that  you 
should  not  teach  in  this  name?  But  you  have  dis¬ 
obeyed  our  commands,  and  go  on  to  preach  not  only 
without  our  licence,  but  against  our  express  order.” 
Thus  they  who  make  void  the  commandments  of 
God,  are  commonly  very  strict  in  binding  on  their 
own  commandments,  and  insisting  upon  their  own 
power;  Did  7iot  we  command  you?  Yes,  they  did  ; 
but  did  not  Peter  at  the  same  time  tell  them,  that 
God’s  authority  was  superior  to  their’s,  and  his  com¬ 
mands  must  take  place  of  their’s  l  And  they  had 
forgotten  that. 

2.  That  they  spread  false  doctrine  among  the  peo¬ 
ple,  or  at  least  a  singular  doctrine,  which  was  not 
allowed  by  the  Jewish  church,  nor  agreed  with  what 
was  delivered  from  Moses’s  chair ;  “  Ye  have  filled 
Jerusalem  with  your  doctrine,  and  thereby  have  dis¬ 
turbed  the  public  peace,  and  drawn  people  from  the 
public  establishment.  ”  Some  take  this  for  a  haughty 
scornful  word;  “This  silly  senseless  doctrine  of 
your’s,  that  is  not  worth  taking  notice  of,  you  have 
made  such  a  noise  with,  that  even  Jerusalem,  the 
great  and  holy  city,  is  become  full  of  it,  and  it  is  all 
the  talk  of  the  town.”  They  are  angry  that  men, 
whom  they  looked  upon  as  despicable,  should  make 
themselves  thus  considerable. 

o.  That  they  had  a  malicious  design  against  the 
government,  and  aimed  to  stir  up  the  people  against 
ir,  by  representing  it  as  wicked  and  tvranivcal,  and 
that  had  made  itself  justly  odious  both  to  God  and 


34 


THE  ACTS,  V 


man ;  “  Ye  intend  to  bring  this  man’s  blood,  the  guilt  [! 
of  it  before  God,  the  shame  of  it  before  men,  uJioji  ! 
us.”  Thus  they  charge  them  not  only  with  contu¬ 
macy  and  contempt  of  the  court,  but  with  sedition 
and  faction,  and  a  plot  to  set  not  only  the  people  ; 
against  them,  for  having  persecuted  even  to  death 
not  only  so  innocent  but  so  good  and  great  a  man  as 
this  Jesus,  but  the  Romans  too,  for  having  drawn 
them  into  it.  See- here  how  those  that  with  a  great 
deal  of  presumption  will  do  an  evil  thing,  yet  cannot 
bear  to  hear  of  it  afterward,  or  to  have  it  charged 
upon  them.  When  they  were  in  the  heart  of  the 
persecution,  they  could  cry  daringly  enough,  “  His 
blood  be  upon  us,  and  upon  our  children ;  let  us  bear 
the  blame  for  ever.”  But  now  that  they  have  time 
for  a  cooler  thought,  they  take  it  as  a  heinous  affront 
to  have  his  blood  laid  at  their  door.  Thus  are  they 
convicted  and  condemned  by  their  own  consciences, 
and  dread  lying  under  that  guilt  which  they  were 
not  afraid  to  involve  themselves  in. 

III.  Their  answer  to  the  charge  exhibited  against 
them  ;  Peter  and  the  other  apostles  all  spake  to  the, 
same  purport ;  whether  severally  examined,  or  an¬ 
swering  jointly,  they  spake  as  one  and  the  same 
Spirit  gave  them  utterance,  depending  upon  the 
promise  their  Master  had  made  them,  that,  when 
they  were  brought  before  councils,  it  should  be  given 
them  in  that  same  hour  what  they  should  speak,  and 
courage  to  speak  it. 

1.  They  justified  themselves  in  their  disobedience 
to  the  commands  of  the  great  Sanhedrim,  great  as 
it  was;  (v.  29.)  We  ought  to  obey  God  rather  than 
men.  They  do  not  plead  the  power  they  had  to 
work  miracles,  (that  spake  sufficiently  for  them,  and 
therefore  they  humbly  decline  mentioning  it  them¬ 
selves,)  but  they  appeal  to  a  maxim  universally 
owned,  and  which  even  natural  conscience  subscribes 
to,  and  which  conies  home  to  their  case.  God  had 
commanded  them  to  teach  in  the  name  of  Christ, 
and  therefore  they  ought  to  do  it,  though  the  chief 
priests  forbade  them.  Those  rulers  set  up  in  oppo¬ 
sition  to  God,  and  have  a  great  deal  to  answer  for, 
who  punish  men  for  disobedience  to  them,  in  that 
which  was  their  duty  to  God. 

2.  They  justify  themselves  in  doing  what  they 
could  to  fill  Jerusalem  with  the  doctrine  of  Christ, 
though,  in  preaching  him  up,  they  did  indeed  reflect 
upon  those  that  maliciously  ran  him  down  ;  and  if 
they  thereby  bring  his  blood  upon  them,  they  may 
thank  themselves.  It  is  charged  upon  them  as  a 
crime,  that  they  preached  Christ  and  his  gospel ; 
“Now,”  say  they,  “  we  will  tell  you  who  this  Christ 
is,  and  what  his  gospel  is,  and  then  do  you  judge 
whether  we  ought  not  to  preach  it ;  nay,  and  we  shall 
take  this  opportunity  to  preach  it  to  you,  whether 
you  will  hear,  or  whether  you  will  forbear.” 

(1.)  The  chief  priests  are  told  to  their  faces  the 
indignities  they  did  to  this  Jesus  ;  “  Ye  slew  him  and 
hanged  him  on  a  tree,  ye  cannot  deny  it.”  The 
apostles,  instead  of  making  an  excuse,  or  begging 
their  pardon,  for  bringing'  the  guilt  of  this  man’s 
blood  upon  them,  repeat  the  charge,  and  stand  to  it ; 
“It  was  you  that  slew  him;  it  was  your  act  and 
deed.”  Note,  People’s  being  unwilling  to  hear  of 
their  faults,  is  no  good  reason  why  they  should  not 
be  faithfully  told  of  them.  It  is  a  common  excuse 
made  for  not  reproving  sin,  that  the  times  will  not 
bear  it.  But  they  whose  office  it  is  to  reprove,  must 
not  be  awed  bv  that ;  the  times  must  bear  it,  and 
shall  bear  it ;  Cry  aloud ,  and  spare  not ;  cry  aloud 
and  tear  not. 

(2.)  They  are  told  also  what  honours  God  put 
upon  this  Jesus,  and  then  let  them  jlidge  who  was 
in  the  right,  the  persecutors  of  his  doctrine,  or  the 
preachers  of  it.  He  calls  God  the  God  of  our  fa¬ 
thers,  not  only  ours,  but  yours,  to  shew  that  in 
preaching  Christ  they  did  not  preach  a  new  god,  nor 


fj  entice  people  to  come  and  worship  ether  gods;  nor 
I  did  they  set  up  an  institution  contrary  o  that  of 
Moses  and  the  prophets,  but  they  adhered  to  the 
i  God  of  the  Jewish  fathers ;  and  that  name  of  Christ 
!  which  they  preached,  answered  the  promises  made 
to  the  fathers,  and  the  covenant  God  entered  into 
with  them,  and  the  types  and  figures  of  the  law  he 
gave  them.  The  God  of  Abraham,  Isaac,  and  Ja 
cob,  is  the  God  and  Father  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ ; 
see  what  honour  he  did  him. 

[1.]  H e  raised  him  up  ;  that  is,  he  qualified  him 
for,  and  called  him  to,  his  great  undertaking.  It 
seems  to  refer  to  the  promise  God  made  by  Moses, 
A  Prophet  shall  the  Lord  your. God  raise  up  unto 
you.  God  raised  him  up  out  of  obscurity,  and  made 
him  great.  Or,  it  may  be  meant  of  his  raising  him 
up  from  the  grave  ;  “  You  put  him  to  death,  but  God 
has  restored  him  to  life,  so  that  God  and  you  are 
manifestly  contesting  about  this  Jesus ;  and  which 
must  we  side  with  ?” 

[2.]  He  exalted  him  with  his  right  hand,  l/^axre — 
hath  lifted  him  up.  “  You  loaded  him  with  disgrace, 
but  God  has  crowned  him  with  honour ;  and  ought 
we  not  to  honour  him  whom  God  honours  ?”  God 
has  exalted  him,  t«  ttwJ — with  his  right  hand, 

that  is,  by  his  power  put  forth  ;  Christ  is  said  to  live 
by  the  power  of  Goa.  Or,  to  his  right  hand,  to  sit 
there,  to  rest  there,  to  rule  there  ;  “  He  has  invested 
him  with  the  highest  dignity,  and  intrusted  him  with 
the  highest  authority,  and  therefore  we  must  teach 
in  his  name,  for  God  has  given  him  a  name  above 
every  name.” 

J3.]  “  He  has  appointed  him  to  be  a  Prince  ana 
'aviour,  and  therefore  we  ought  to  preach  in  his 
name,  and  to  publish  the  laws  of  his  government  as 
he  is  a  Prince,  and  the  offers  of  his  grace  as  he  is  a 
Saviour.”  Observe,  there  is  no  having  Christ  to 
be  our  Saviour,  unless  we  be  willing  to  take  him  for 
our  Prince.  We  cannot  expect  to  be  redeemed  and 
healed  by  him,  unless  we  give  up  ourselves  to  be 
ruled  by  him.  The  judges  of  old  were  saviours. 
Christ’s  ruling  is  in  order  to  his  saving,  and  faith 
takes  an  entire  Christ,  that  came,  not  to  save  us  in 
our  sins,  but  to  save  us  from  our  sins. 

V  [4.]  He  is  appointed,  as  a  Prince  and  a  Saviour, 
to  give  repentance  to  Israel  and  remission  of  sins. 
Therefore  they  must  preach  in  his  name  to  the  peo¬ 
ple  of  Israel,  for  his  favours  were  designed,  prima¬ 
rily  and  principally  for  them  ;  and  none  that  truly 
loved  their  country,  could  be  against  that.  Why 
should  the  rulers  and  elders  of  Israel  oppose  one  who 
came  with  no  less  a  blessing  to  Israel  than  repen¬ 
tance  and  pardon  ?  Had  he  been  exalted  to  give 
deliverance  to  Israel  from  the  Roman  yoke,  an*:!  do¬ 
minion  over  the  neighbouring  nations,  the  chief 
priests  would  have  welcomed  him  with  all  their 
hearts.  But  repentance  and  remission  of  sins  are 
blessings  they  neither  value  nor  see  their  need  of, 
and  therefore  they  can  bv  no  means  admit  his  doc¬ 
trine.  Observe  here,  First,  Repentance  and  remis¬ 
sion  go  together ;  wherever  repentance  is  wrought, 
remission  is  without  fail  granted,  and  the  favour 
given  to  all  those  to  whom  is  given  the  qualification 
for  it.  On  the  other  hand,  no  remission  without  re¬ 
pentance  ;  none  are  freed  from  the  guilt  and  punish¬ 
ment  of  sin  but  those  that  are  freed  from  the  power 
and  dominion  of  sin  ;  that  are  turned  from  it,  and 
turned  against  it.  Secondly,  It  is  Jesus  Christ  that 
gives,  and  is  authorized  to  give,  both  repentance  and 
remission.  Whatsoever  is  required  in  the  gospel- 
covenant,  is  promised.  Arc  we  appointed  to  repent  ’ 
Christ  is  appointed  to  give  repentance,  by  his  Spirit 
working  with  the  word,  to  awaken  the  conscience, 
to  work  contrition  for  sin,  and  an  effectual  change  in 
the  heart  and  life.  The  new  heart  is  his  work,  and 
the  broken  spirit  a  sacrifice  of  his  providing ;  and 
when  he  has  given  repentance,  if  he  should  not  give 


55 


THE  ACTS,  V. 


remission,  he  would  forsake  the  work  of  his  own  ! 
hands.  See  how  necessary  it  is  that  we  repent,  and  | 
that  we  apply  ourselves- to  Christ  by  faith  for  his 
grace  to  work  repentance  in  us. 

.  [5.]  All  this  is  well  attested,  First,  By  the  apos- 
tles  themselves  ;  they  are  ready  to  testify  upon  oath, 
if  required,  that  they  saw  him  alive  after  his  resur¬ 
rection,  and  saw  him  ascend  into  heaven  ;  and  also 
that  they  experienced  the  power  of  his  grace  upon 
their  hearts,  raising  them  up  to  that  which  was  far 
above  their  natural  capacities.  “  He  are  his  wit¬ 
nesses,  appointed  by  him  to  publish  this  to  the  world, 
and  if  we  should  be  silent,  as  you  would  have  us,  we 
should  betray  a  trust,  and  be  false  to  it.”  When  a 
cause  is  trying,  witnesses,  of  all  men,  ought  not  to 
be  silenced,  for  the  issue  of  the  cause  depends  on 
their  testimony.  Secondly,  By  the  Sfiirit  of  God ; 
“  We  are  witnesses,  competent  ones,  and  whose 
testimony  is  sufficient  before  any  human  judicature.  ” 
But  that  is  not  all,  The  Holy  Ghost  is  witness,  a  wit¬ 
ness  from  heaven ;  for  God  hath  given  his  gifts  and 
graces  to  them  that  obey  Christ.  Therefore  we  must 
preach  in  his  name,  because  for  this  end  the  Holy 
Ghost  is  given  us,  whose  operations  we  cannot  stifle. 

Note,  The  giving  of  the  Holy  Ghost  to  obedient 
believers,  not  only  to  bring  them  to  the  obedience  of 
faith,  but  to  make  them  eminently  useful  therein,  is 
a  very  strong  proof  of  the  truth  of  Christianity.  God 
gave  the  Holy  Ghost  by  his  Son  and  in  his  name, 
(John  14.  26.)  and  in  answer  to  his  prayer;  (John  14. 
16.)  nay,  it  was  Christ  that  sent  him  from  the  Fa¬ 
ther;  (John  15.  26. — 16.  17.)  and  this  proves  the 
glory  to  which  the  Father  has  exalted  him.  The 
great  work  of  the  Spirit  being  not  only  to  justify 
Christ,  (1  Tim.  3.  16.)  but  to  glorify  him,  and  all 
his  gifts  having  a  direct  tendency  to  exalt  his  name, 
proves  that  his  doctrine  is  divine,  else  it  would  not 
bt  carried  on  thus  by  a  divine  power.  And,  Lastly, 
The  giving  of  the  Holy  Ghost  to  them  that  obey 
Christ,  both  tor  their  assistance  in  their  obedience, 
and  as  a  present  recompense  for  their  obedience,  is 
a  plain  evidence  that  it  is  the  will  of  God  that  Christ 
should  be  obeyed;  “and  then  judge  whether  we 
ought  to  obey  you  in  opposition  to  him.” 

IV.  The  impression  which  the  apostles’  defence 
of  themselves  made  upon  the  court ;  it  was  contrary 
to  what  one  would  have  expected  from  men  that 
pretended  to  reason,  learning,  and  sanctity ;  surely 
such  fair  reasoning  could  not  but  clear  the  prisoners, 
and  convert  the  judges ;  no,  instead  of  yielding  to  it, 
they  raged  against  it,  and  were  filled, 

1.  With  indignation  at  what  the  apostles  said; 
they  were  cut  to  the  heart,  angry  to  see  their  own 
sin  set  in  order  before  them  ;  stark  mad  to  find  that 
the  gospel  of  Christ  had  so  much  to  say  for  itself, 
and,  consequently,  was  likely  to  get  ground.  When 
a  sermon  was  preached  to  the  people  to  this  purport, 
they  were  pricked  to  the  heart,  in  remorse  and  godly 
sorrow,  ch.  2.  37.  These  here  were  cut  to  the  heart 
with  rage  and  indignation.  Thus  the  same  gospel 
is  to  some  a  savour  of  life  unto  life,  to  others  of  death 
unto  death.  The  enemies  of  the  gospel  not  only  de¬ 
prive  themselves  of  its  comforts,  but  fill  themselves 
with  terrors,  and  are  their  own  tormentors. 

2.  With  malice  against  the  apostles  themselves; 
since  they  see  they  cannot  stop  their  mouths  any 
other  way  than  by  stopping  their  breath,  they  take 
counsel  to  slay  them,  hoping  that  so  they  should 
cause  the  work  to  cease.  While  the  apostles  went 
on  in  the  service  of  Christ,  with  a  holy  security  and 
serenity  of  mind,  perfectly  composed,  and  in  a  sweet 
enjoyment  of  themselves,  their  persecutors  went  on 
in  their  opposition  to  Christ,  with  a  continualper- 
plexity  and  perturbation  of  mind,  and  vexation  to 
themselves. 

V.  The  grave  advice  which  Gamaliel,  a  leading 
man  in  the  council,  gave  upon  this  occasion,  the 


scope  of  which  was  to  moderate  the  fury  of  these 
bigots,  and  check  the  violence  of  the  prosecution. 
This  Gamaliel  is  here  said  to  be  a  Pharisee  by  his 
profession  and  sect,  and  by  office  a  doctor  of  the  law, 
one  that  studied  the  scriptures  of  the  Old  1  estament, 
read  lectures  upon  the  sacred  authors,  and  trained 
up  pupils  in  the  knowledge  of  them ;  Paul  was  brought 
up  at  his  feet;  ( ch .  22.  3.)  and  tradition  says,  that 
so  were  Stephen  and  Barnabas.  Some  say  that  he 
was  the  son  of  that  Simeon  that  took  up  Christ  in  his 
arms,  when  he  was  presented  in  the  temple ;  and 
grandson  of  the  famous  Hillel.  He  is  here  said  to 
be  in  reputation  among  all  the  people  for  his  wisdom 
and  conduct ;  it  appearing  by  this  passage  that  he 
was  a  moderate  man,  and  not  apt  to  go  in  with  fu¬ 
rious  measures.  Men  of  temper  and  charity  are 
justly  had  in  reputatiqn,  for  checking  the  incendia¬ 
ries  that  otherwise  would  set  the  earth  on  fire.  Now 
observe  here, 

1.  The  necessary  caution  he  gives  to  the  council, 
with  reference  to  the  case  before  them  ;  he  com¬ 
manded  to  put  the  apostles  forth  a  little  while,  that 
he  might  speak  the  more  freely,  and  be  the  more 
freely  answered ;  (it  was  fit  that  the  prisoners  should 
withdraw  when  their  cause  was  to  be  debated  ;)  and 
then  put  the  house  in  mind  of  the  importance  of  this 
matter,  which  in  their  heat  they  were  not  capable 
of  considering  as  they  ought ;  “  Ye  men  of  Israel, 
saith  he,  take  heed  to  yourselves,  consider  what  you 
do,  or  intend  to  do,  as  touching  these  men,  v.  35.  It 
is  not  a  common  case,  and  therefore  should  not  be 
hastily  determined.”  He  calls  them  men  of  Israel, 
to  enforce  this  caution ;  “You  are  men,  that  should 
be  governed  by  reason,  be  not  then  as  the  horse  and 
the  mule  that  have  no  understanding ;  you  are  men 
of  Israel,  that  should  be  governed  by  revelation,  be 
not  then  as  strangers  and  heathens,  that  have  no  re¬ 
gard  to  God  and  his  word.  Take  heed  to  yourselves, 
now  that  you  are  angry  at  these  men,  lest  you  mid¬ 
dle  to  your  own  hurt.”  Note,  The  persecutors  of 
God’s  people  had  best  look  to  themselves,  lest  they 
fall  into  the  pit  which  they  dig.  We  have  need  to 
be  cautious  whom  we  give  trouble  to,  lest  we  be 
found  making  the  hearts  of  the  righteous  sad. 

2.  The  cases  he  cites,  to  pave  the  way  to  his  opi¬ 
nion  ;  two  instances  he  gives  of  factious  seditious 
men,  (such  as  they  would  have  the  apostles  thought 
to  be,)  whose  attempts  came  to  nothing  of  them¬ 
selves;  whence  he  infers,  that  if  these  men  were  in¬ 
deed  such  as  they  represented  them,  their  cause 
would  sink  with  its  own  weight,  and  Providence 
would  infatuate  and  defeat  them,  and  then  they 
needed  not  persecute  them. 

(1.)  There  was  one  Theudas,  that  made  a  mighty 
noise  for  a  while,  as  one  sent  of  God,  boasting  him 
self  to  be  somebody,  some  great  one,  (so  the  word  is,) 
either  a  teacher  or  a  prince,  with  a  divine  commis¬ 
sion  to  effect  some  great  revolution  either  in  the 
church  or  in  the  state ;  and  he  observes  here,  ( v . 
36.)  concerning  him,  [1.]  How  far  he  prevailed; 
“ H  number  of  men,  about  four  hundred  in  all,  joined 
themselves  to  him,  that  knew  not  what  to  do  with 
themselves,  or  hoped  to  mend  themselves  ;  and  they 
seemed  then  a  formidable  body.”  [2.]  How  soon 
his  pretensions  were  all  dashed ;  “  When  he  was 
slain,”  (probably  in  war,)  “there  needed  no  more 
ado,  all,  as  many  as  obeyed  him,  were  scattered,  and 
I  melted  away  like  snow  before  the  sun.  Now  com¬ 
pare  that  case  with  this;  you  have  slain  Jesus,  the 
ringleader  of  this  faction,  you  have  taken  him  off. 
i  Now  if  he  was,  as  veu  say  he  was,  an  impostor  and 
pretender,  his  death,  like  that  of  TheujJas,  will  be 
the  death  of  his  cause,  and  the  final  dispersion  of  Ins 
followers.”  From  what  has  been,  we  may  infer 
what  will  be  in  a  like  case  ;  the  smiting  of  the  shep¬ 
herd  will  be  the  scattering  of  the  sheep  ;  and  if  the 
God  of  peace  had  not  brought  again  from  the  dead. 


56 


THE  ACTS,  V. 


*hat  great  Shepherd,  the  dispersion  of  the  sheep,  at 
his  death,  had  been  total  and  final. 

(2. )  The  case  was  the  same  with  Judas  of  Galilee, 
v.  37.  Observe,  [1.]  The  attempt  he  made.  It  is 
said  to  be  after  this ;  which  some  read,  beside  this, 
or,  Let  me  mention,  after  thus ;  supposing  that  Ju¬ 
das’s  insurrection  was  long  before  that  of  Theudas ; 
for  it  was  in  the  time  of  the  taxation,  that  at  our  Sa¬ 
viour’s  birth,  (Luke  2.  1.)  and  that  of  Theudas, 
whom  Josephus  speaks  of,  that  mutinied,  in  the  time 
of  Cus/iius  Fadus  ;  but  that  was  in  the  days  of  Clau¬ 
dius  Caesar,  some  years  after  Gamaliel  spake  this, 
and  therefore  could  not  be  the  same.  It  is  not  easy 
to  determine  particularly  when  these  events  hap¬ 
pened,  nor  whether  this  taxing  was  the  same  with 
that  at  our  Saviour’s  birth,  or  one  of  a  later  date. 
Some  think  this  Judas  of  Galilee  was  the  same  with 
Judas  Gaulonites,  whom  Josephus  speaks  of,  others 
not.  It  is  probable  that  they  were  cases  which  lately 
happened,  and  were  fresh  in  memory ;  this  Judas 
drew  away  much  people  after  him,  who  gave  credit 
to  his  pretensions.  But,  [2.]  Here  is  the  defeat  of 
his  attempt,  and  that  without  any  interposal  of  the 
great  Sanhedrim,  or  any  decree  of  theirs  against 
him  ;  (it  did  not  need  it ;)  he  also  fierished,  and  all 
even  as  many  as  obeyed  him,  or  were  persuaded  by 
him,  were  dispersed.  Many  have  foolishly  thrown 
away  their  lives,  and  brought  others  into  the  same 
snares,  by  a  jealousy  for  their  liberties,  in  the  days 
of  the  taxing,  who  had  better  have  been  content, 
when  Providence  had  so  determined,  to  serve  the 
king  of  Babylon. 

3.  His  opinion  upon  the  whole  matter. 

(1.)  That  they  should  not  persecute  the  apostles  ; 

( v .  38.)  Now  I  say  unto  you,  rti  vDv — for  the  pre¬ 
sent,  as  the  matter  now  stands,  my  advice  is,  “  Re¬ 
frain  from  these  men ;  neither  punish  them  for 
what  they  have  done,  nor  restrain  them  for  the  fu¬ 
ture.  Connive  at  them,  let  them  take  their  course ; 
let  not  our  hand  be  upon  them.”  It  is  uncertain 
whether  he  spake  this  out  of  policy,  for  fear  of  of¬ 
fending  either  the  people  or  the  Romans,  and  making 
further  mischief.  The  apostles  did  not  attempt  any 
thing  by  outward  force,  the  weapons  of  their  war¬ 
fare  were  not  carnal ;  and  therefore  whv  should  any 
outward  force  be  used  against  them  ?  Or,  whether 
he  was  under  some  present  convictions,  at  least  of 
the  probability  of  the  truth  of  the  Christian  doctrine, 
and  thought  it  deserved  better  treatment,  at  least  a 
fair  trial  ;  or,  whether  it  was  only  the  language  of 
a  mild  quiet  spirit,  that  was  against  persecution  for 
conscience-sake  ;  or,  whether  God  put  this  word 
into  his  mouth  beyond  his  own  intention,  for  the  de¬ 
liverance  of  the  apostles  at  this  time  ;  we  are  sure 
there  was  an  over-ruling  Providence  in  it,  that  the 
servants  of  Christ  might  not  only  come  off,  but  come 
off  honourably. 

(2. )  That  they  should  refer  this  matter  to  Provi¬ 
dence  ;  “  Wait  the  issue,  and  see  what  it  will  come 
to.  Tf  it  be  of  men,  it  will  come  to  nought  of  itself, 
if  of  God,  it  will  stand,  in  spite  of  all  your  powers 
and  policies.”  That  which  is  apparently  wicked 
and  immoral  must  be  suppressed,  else  the  magis¬ 
trate  bears  the  sword  in  vain  ;  but  that  which  has  a 
shew  of  good,  and  it  is  doubtful  whether  it  be  of 
God  or  men,  it  is  best  to  let  it  alone,  and  let  it  take 
its  fate,  not  to  use  any  external  force  for  the  sup¬ 
pressing  of  it.  Christ  rules  by  the  power  of  truth, 
not  of  the  sword. 

What  Christ  asked  concerning  John’s  baptism, 
lias  it  from  heaven,  or  of  men  ?  was  a  question 
proper  to  be  asked  concerning  the  apostles’  doctrine 
and  baptism,  which  followed  Christ,  as  John  Bap¬ 
tist’s  went  before  him  ;  now  they,  having  owned 
concerning  the  former,  that  they  could  not  tell  whe¬ 
ther  it  was  from  heaven  or  of  men,  ought  not  to  be  j 
too  confident  concerning  the  latter ;  but  take  it  I 


which  way  you  will,  it  is  a  reason  why  they  should 
not  be  persecuted. 

[1.]  “If  this  counsel,  and  this  work,  this  forming 
of  a  society,  and  incorporating  it  in  the  name  of  Je 
sus,  be  of  men,  it  will  come  to  nothing.  If  it  be  the 
counsel  and  work  of  foolish  men,  that  know  not 
what  they  do,  let  them  alone  a  while,  and  they  will 
run  themselves  out  of  breath,  and  their  folly  will  be 
manifest  before  all  men,  and  they  will  make  them¬ 
selves  ridiculous.  If  it  be  the  counsel  and  work  of 
politic  and  designing  men,  who,  under  colour  of  re¬ 
ligion,  are  setting  up  a  secular  interest,  let  them 
alone  a  while,  and  tney  will  throw  off  the  mask, 
and  their  knavery  will  be  manifest  to  all  men,  and 
they  will  make  themselves  odious  ;  Providence  will 
never  countenance  it ;  it  will  come  to  nothing  in  a 
little  time  ;  and,  if  so,  your  persecuting  and  opposing 
it  is  very  needless  ;  there  is  no  occasion  for  giving 
yourselves  so  much  trouble,  and  bringing  such  an 
odium  upon  yourselves,  to  kill  that,  which,  if  you 
give  it  a  little  time,  will  die  of  itself.  The  unneces¬ 
sary  use  of  power  is  an  abuse  of  it.  But,” 

[2.]  “If  it  should  prove,  (and  as  wise  men  as  you 
have  been  mistaken,)  that  this  counsel  and  this  work 
is  of  God,  that  these  preachers  have  their  commis¬ 
sions  and  instructions  from  him,  that  they  are  as 
truly  his  messengers  to  the  world  as  the  Old  Testa¬ 
ment  prophets  were  ;  then  what  do  you  think  oi 
persecuting  them,  of  this  attempt  of  your’s  ( v .  33.) 
to  slay  them?  You  must  conclude  it  to  be,”  First, 
“A  fruitless  attempt  against  them  ;  if  it  be  of  God, 
you  cannot  overthow  it  ;  for  there  is  no  wisdom  nor 
counsel  against  the  Lord ;  he  that  sits  in  heaven, 
laughs  at  you.”  It  may  be  the  comfort  of  all  who 
are  sincerely  on  God’s  side,  who  have  a  single  eye 
to  his  will  as  their  rule,  and  his'  glory  as  their  end, 
that,  whatsoever  is  of  God,  cannot  be  overthrown 
totally  and  finally,  though  it  may  be  very  vigorously 
opposed  ;  it  may  be  run  upon,  but  cannot  be  run 
down.  Secondly,  “A  dangerous  attempt  to  vour- 
selves.  Pray  let  it  alone,  lest  haply  ye  be  found 
even  to  fight  against  God ;  and  I  need  not  tell  you 
who  will  come  off  by  the  worse  in  that  contest.” 
Woe  unto  him  that  strives  with  /us  Maker,  for  he 
will  not  only  be  overcome  as  an  impotent  enemy, 
but  severely  reckoned  with  as  a  rebel  and  traitor 
against  his  rightful  Prince.  They  that  hate  and 
abuse  God’s  faithful  people,  that  restrain  and  silence 
his  faithful  ministers,  fight  against  God ;  for  he 
takes  what  is  done  against  them  as  done  against 
himself ;  whoso  touches  them,  touches  the  apple  of 
his  eye. 

Well,  this  was  the  advice  of  Gamaliel ;  we  wish 
it  were  duly  considered  by  those  that  persecute  for 
conscience-sake,  for  it  was  a  good  thought,  and  na¬ 
tural  enough,  though  we  are  uncertain  what  the 
man  was.  The  tradition  of  the  Jewish  writers  is, 
that,  for  all  this,  he  lived  and  died  an  inveterate 
enemy  to  Christ  and  his  gospel ;  and  though  (now 
at  least)  he  was  not  for  persecuting  the  followers  of 
Christ,  yet  he  was  the  man  who  composed  that 
prayer  which  the  Jews  use  to  this  day,  for  the  ex¬ 
tirpating  of  Christians  and  Christianity.  On  the 
contrary,  the  traditions  of  the  Papists  is,  that  he 
turned  Christian,  and  became  an  eminent  patron  of 
Christianity,  and  a  follower  of  Paul,  who  had  sat 
at  his  feet.  If  that  had  been  so,  it  is  very  probable 
that  we  should  have  heard  of  him  somewhere  in  the 
Acts  or  Fp  is  ties. 

VI.  The  determination  of  the  council  upon  the 
whole  matter,  v.  40. 

1.  Thus  far  thev  agreed  with  Gamaliel,  that  they 
let  fall  the  design  of  putting  the  apostles  to  death. 
Thev  saw  a  great  deal  of  reason  in  what  Gamaliel 
said,  and,  for  the  present,  it  gave  some  check  to 
their  furv,  and  a  remainder  of  their  wrath  was  re 
strained  by  it. 


57 


THE  AC 

2.  Yet  they  could  not  forbear  giving  some  vent 
to  their  rage,  (so  outrageous  was  it,)  contrary  to  the 
convictions  of  their  judgments  and  consciences  ;  for, 
though  they  were  advised  to  let  them  alone ,  yet, 
(1.)  They  beat  them,  scourged  them  as  malefactors, 
stripped  them,  and  whipped  them,  as  they  used  to 
do  in  the  synagogues,  and  notice  is  taken  (v.  41.)  of 
the  ignomy  of  it ;  thus  they  thought  to  make  them 
ashamed  of  preaching,  and  the  people  ashamed  of 
hearing  them  ;  as  Pilate  scourged  our  Saviour,  to 
■expose  him,  when  yet  he  declared  he  found  no  fault 
in  him.  (2. )  They  commanded  them  that  they  mould 
not  speak  any  more  in  the  name  of  Jesus  ;  that,  if 
they  could  find  no  other  fault  with  their  preaching 
they  might  have  this  ground  to  reproach  it,  that  it 
was  against  law,  and  not  only  without  the  permission, 
but  against  the  express  order  of  their  superiors. 

VII.  The  wonderful  courage  and  constancy  of  the 
apostles  in  the  midst  of  all  these  injuries  and  indig¬ 
nities  done  them  ;  when  they  were  dismissed,  they 
departed  from  the  council,  and  we  do  not  find  one 
word  they  said  by  way  of  reflection  upon  the  court, 
and  the  unjust  treatment  given  them  ;  when  they 
were  reviled,  they  reviled  not  again ;  and  when 
they  suffered,  they  threatened  not,  but  committed 
their  cause  to  him,  to  whom  Gamaliel  had  referred 
it,  even  to  a  God  who  judgeth  righteously .  All 
their  business  was  to  preserve  the  possession  of  their 
own  sails,  and  to  make  full  proof  of  their  ministry, 
notwithstanding  the  opposition  given  them  ;  and  both 
these  they  did  to  admiration. 

1.  They  bore  their  sufferings  with  an  invincible 
cheerfulness;  (z>.  41.)  When  they  went  out,  per¬ 
haps,  with  the  marks  of  the  lashes,  given  them  on 
their  arms  and  hands,  appearing,  hissed  at  by  the 
servants  and  rabble,  it  may  be,  or  public  notice  given 
of  the  infamous  punishment  they  had  undergone, 
instead  of  being  ashamed  of  Christ,  and  their  rela¬ 
tion  to  him,  they  rejoiced  that  they  were  counted 
worthy  to  suffer  shame  for  his  name.  They  were 
men,  and  men  in  reputation,  that  had  never  done 
any  thing  to  make  themselves  vile,  and  therefore 
could  not  but  have  a  sense  of  the  shame  they  suffered, 
which,  it  should  seem,  was  more  grievous  to  them 
than  the  smart,  as  it  is  to  ingenuous  minds;  but 
they  considered  that  it  was  for  the  name  of  Christ 
that  they  were  thus  abused,  because  they  belonged 
to  him,  and  served  his  interest,  and  their  sufferings 
should  be  made  to  contribute  to  the  further  advance¬ 
ment  of  his  name  ;  and  therefore,  (1.)  They  reckon¬ 
ed  it  an  honour,  looked  upon  it  that  they  were  counted 
worthy  to  suffer  shame,  x.xTs^Mna-sLv  iTi/xa.<rtiy\\icu — 
that  they  were  honoured,  to  be  dishonoured  for 
Christ.  Reproach  for  Christ  is  true  preferment,  as 
it  makes  us  conformable  to  his  pattern  and  service¬ 
able  to  his  interest.  (2.)  They  rejoiced  in  it,  remem¬ 
bering  what  their  Master  had  said  to  them  at  their 
first  setting  out ;  (Matt.  5.  11,  12.)  When  men  shall 
revile  you,  and  persecute  you,  rejoice  and  be  exceed¬ 
ing  glad.  -They  rejoiced,  not  only  though  they  suf¬ 
fered  shame,  (their  troubles  did  not  diminish  their 
jov,)  but  that  they  suffered  shame;  their  troubles 
increased  their  joy,  and  added  to  it.  If  we  suffer  ill 
for  doing  well,  provided  we  suffer  it  well,  and  as  we 
should,  we  ought  to  rejoice  in  that  grace  which  en¬ 
abled  us  so  to  do. 

2.  They  went  on  in  their  work  with  indefatigable 
diligence  ;  (v.  42.)  They  were  punished  for  preach¬ 
ing,  and  were  commanded  not  to  preach,  and  yet 
they  ceased  not  to  teach  and  preach  ;  they  omitted 
no  opportunity,  nor  abated  any  thing  of  their  zeal  or 
forwardness.  Observe,  (1.)  When  they  preached — 
daily  ;  not  only  on  sabbath-davs,  or  on  Lord’s  days, 
but  every  day,  as  duly  as  the  day  came,  without  in¬ 
termitting  any  day,  as  their  M  ister  did,  (Luke  19. 
47.  Matt.  26.  55. )  not  fearing  that  they  should  either 
till  themselves,  or  cloy  their  hearers’.  (2.)  Where 

Vol.  vi. — H 


;ts,  vi. 

they  preached — both  publicly  in  the  temple,  and 
privately  in  every  house ;  in  promiscuous  assem¬ 
blies,  to  which  all  resorted  ;  and  in  the  select  assem¬ 
blies  of  Christians  for  special  ordinances.  They  did 
not  think  that  either  one  would  excuse  them  from 
the  other,  for  the  word  must  be  preached  in  season 
and  out  of  season.  Though  in  the  temple  they  were 
more  exposed,  and  under  the  eye  of  their  enemies, 
yet  they  did  not  confine  themselves  to  their  little 
oratories  in  their  own  houses,  but  ventured  into  the 
post  of  danger  ;  and  though  they  had  the  liberty  of 
the  temple,  a  consecrated  place,  yet  they  made  no 
difficulty  of  preaching  in  houses,  in  every  house, 
even  the  poorest  cottage.  They  visited  the  families 
of  those  that  were  under  their  charge,  and  gave 
particular  instructions  to  them,  according  as  their 
case  required  ;  even  to  the  children  and  servants. 
(3.)  What  was  the  subject  matter  of  their  preach¬ 
ing  ;  They  preached  Jesus  Christ;  they  preached 
concerning  him  ;  that  was  not  all,  they  preached 
him  up,  they  proposed  him  to  those  who  heard 
them,  to  be  their  Prince  and  Saviour.  They  did 
not  preach  themselves,  but  Christ,  as  faithful  friends 
to  the  Bridegroom,  making  it  their  business  to  ad¬ 
vance  his  interest.  This  was  the  preaching  that 
gave  most  offence  to  the  priests  ;  they  were  willing 
that  they  should  preach  any  thing  but  Christ ;  but 
they  would  not  alter  their  subject  to  please  them. 
It  ought  to  be  the  constant  business  of  gospel-minis¬ 
ters  to  preach  Christ;  Christ,  and  him  crucified ; 
Christ,  and  him  glorified  ;  nothing  beside  this,  biri 
what  is  reducible  to  it. 

CHAP.  VI. 

In  this  chapter,  we  have,  I.  The  discontent  that  was  among 
the  disciples  about  the  distribution  of  the  public  charity, 
v.  1.  II.  The  election  and  ordination  of  seven  men,  who 
should  take  care  of  that  matter,  and  ease  the  apostles  of 
the  burthen,  v.  2.  .6.  III.  The  increase  of  the  church, 
by  the  addition  of  many  to  it,  v.  7.  IV.  A  particular  ac¬ 
count  of  Stephen,  one  of  the  seven.  1.  His  great  activity 
for  Christ,  v.  8.  2.  The  opposition  he  met  with  from  the 

enemies  of  Christianity,  and  his  disputes  with  them,  v.  9, 
10.  3.  The  convening  of  him  before  the  great  Sanhedrim, 
and  the  crimes  laid  to  his  charge,  v.  li  . .  14.  4.  God’s 
owning  him  upon  his  trial,  v.  15. 

1.  A  ND  in  those  days,  when  the  num- 

her  of  the  disciples  was  multiplied, 
there  arose  a  murmuring  of  the  Grecians 
against  the  Hebrews,  because  their  widows 
were  neglected  in  the  daily  ministration. 

2.  Then  the  twelve  called  the  multitude 

of  the  disciples  unto  them ,  and  said,  It  is 
not  reason  that  we  should  leave  the  word 
of  God,  and  serve  tables.  3.  Wherelore, 
brethren,  look  ye  out  among  you  seven 
men  of  honest  report,  full  of  the  Holy 
Ghost  and  wisdom,  whom  we  may  appoint 
over  this  business.  4.  But  we  will  give 
ourselves  continually  to  prayer,  and  to  the 
ministry  of  the  word.  5.  And  the  saying 
pleased  the  whole  multitude  :  and  they 
chose  Stephen,  a  man  full  of  faith  and  of 
the  Holy  Ghost,  and  Philip,  and  Prochorus, 
and  Nicanor,  and  Timon,  and  Parmenas, 
and  Nicolas  a  proselyte  of  Antioch  :  6. 

Whom  they  set  before  the  apostles:  and 
when  they  had  prayed,  they  laid  tlirir  bands 
on  them.  7.  And  the  word  of  God  in¬ 
creased  ;  and  the  number  of  the  disciples 


58 


THE  ACTS,  VI. 


multiplied  in  Jerusalem  greatly ;  and  a 
great  company  of  the  priests  were  obedient 
to  the  faith. 

Having  seen  the  church’s  struggles  with  its  ene¬ 
mies,  and  triumphed  with  her  in  her  victories,  we 
now  come  to  take  a  view  of  the  administration  of  its 
affairs  at  home  ;  and  here  we  have, 

I.  An  unhappy  disagreement  among  some  of  the 
church  members,  which  might  have  been  of  ill  con¬ 
sequence,  but  was  prudently  accommodated  and 
taken  up  in  time  ;  (v.  1.)  When  the  number  of  the 
disci/iles  (for  so  Christians  were  at  first  calfed,  learn¬ 
ers  of  Christ t  was  multiplied  to  many  thousands  in 
Jerusalem,  then  arose  a  murmuring. 

1.  It  does  our  hearts  good  to  find  that  the  number 
of  the  disciples  is  multiplied,  as,  no  doubt,  it  vexed 
the  priests  and  Saclducees  to  the  heart  to  see  it.  The 
opposition  that  the  preaching  of  the  gospel  met  with, 
instead  of  checking  its  progress,  contributed  to  the 
success  of  it ;  and  this  infant  Christian  church,  like 
the  infant  Jewish  church  in  Egypt,  the  more  it  was 
afflicted,  the  more  it  multiplied.  The  preachers 
were  beaten,  threatened,  and  abused,  and  yet  the 
people  received  their  doctrine,  invited,  no  doubt, 
thereto,  by  their  wonderful  patience  and  cheerful¬ 
ness  under  their  trials,  which  convinced  men  that 
they  were  borne  up  and  carried  on  by  a  better  spirit 
than  their  own. 

2.  Yet  it  casts  a  damp  upon  us  to  find  that  the 
multiplying  of  the  disciples  proves  an  occasion  of 
discord.  Hitherto  they  were  all  with  one  accord  ; 
this  had  been  often  taken  notice  of  to  their  honour  ; 
but  now  that  they  were  multiplied,  they  began  to 
murmur ;  as  in  the  old  world,  when  men  began  to 
multiply,  they  corrupted  themselves.  Thou  hast 
multiplied  the  nation,  and  not  increased  their  joy, 
Isa.  9.  3.  When  Abraham  and  Lot  increased  their 
families,  there  was  a  strife  between  their  herdmen  ; 
so  it  was  here ;  there  arose  a  murmuring,  not  an 
open  falling  out,  but  a  secret  heart-burning. 

(1.)  The  complainants  were  the  Grecians,  or  Hel¬ 
lenists,  against  the  Hebrews.  The  Jews  that  were 
scattered  in  Greece,  and  other  parts,  who  ordinarily 
spake  the  Greek  tongue,  and  read  the  Old  Testa¬ 
ment  in  the  Greek  version,  and  not  the  original  He¬ 
brew,  many  of  which,  being  at  Jerusalem  at  the 
feast,  embraced  the  faith  of  Christ,  and  were  added 
to  the  church,  and  so  continued  there  ;  these  com¬ 
plained  against  the  Hebrews,  the  native  Jews,  that 
used  the  original  Hebrew  of  the  Old  Testament. 
Some  of  each  of  these  became  Christians,  and,  it 
seems,  their  joint-embracing  of  the  faith  of  Christ 
did  not  prevail,  as  it  ought  to  have  done,  to  extin¬ 
guish  the  little  jealousies  they  had  had  one  of  ano¬ 
ther  before  their  conversion,  but  they  retained  some¬ 
what  of  that  old  leaven  ;  not  understanding,  or  not 
remembering,  that  in  Christ  Jesus  there  is  neither 
Greek  nor  Jew,  no  distinction  of  Hebrew  and  Hel¬ 
lenist,  but  all  are  alike  welcome  to  Christ,  and  should 
be,  for  his  sake,  dear  to  one  another. 

(2.)  The  complaint  of  these  Grecians,  was,  that 
their  widows  were  neglected  in  the  daily  administra¬ 
tion,  that  is,  in  the  distribution  of  the  public  charity, 
and  the  Hebrew  widows  had  more  care  taken  of 
them.  Observe,  The  first  contention  in  the  Chris¬ 
tian  church  was  about  a  money-matter ;  but  it  is  pity 
that  the  little  things  of  this  world  should  be  make- 
baits  among  those  that  profess  to  be  taken  up  with 
the  great  things  of  another  world.  A  great  deal  of 
money  was  gathered  for  the  relief  of  the  poor,  but, 
as  often  happens  in  such  cases,  it  was  impossible  to 
please  every  body  in  the  laying  of  it  out.  The  apos¬ 
tles,  at  whose  feet  it  was  laid,  did  their  best  to  dis¬ 
pose  of  it  so  as  to  answer  the  intentions  of  the  donors, 
and,  no  doubt,  designed  to  do  it  with  the  utmost  im¬ 
partiality,  and  were  far  from  respecting  the  He¬ 


brews  more  than  the  Grecians ;  and  yet  here  they 
are  complained  to,  and  implicitly  complained  of, 
that  the  Grecian  widows  were  neglected;  though 
they  were  as  real  objects  of  charity,  yet  they  had 
not  so  much  allowed  them,  or  not  to  so  many,  or  not 
so  duly  paid  them,  as  the  Hebrews.  How,  [1.] 
Perhaps  this  complaint  was  groundless  and  unjust, 
and  there  was  no  cause  for  it ;  but  those  who,  upon 
any  account,  lie  under  disadvantages,  (as  the  Gre¬ 
cian  Jews  did,  in  comparison  with  them  that  were 
Hebrews  of  the  Hebrews, )  are  apt  to  be  jealous  that 
they  are  slighted,  when  really  they  are  not  so;  and 
it  is  the  common  fault  of  poor  people,  that,  instead 
of  being  thankful  for  what  is  given  them,  they  are 
querulous  and  clamorous,  and  apt  to  find  fault  that 
more  is  not  given  them,  or  that  more  is  given  to 
others  than  to  them  ;  and  there  are  envy  and  covet¬ 
ousness,  those  roots  of  bitterness,  to  be  found  among 
the  poor  as  well  as  among  the  rich,  notwithstanding 
the  humbling  providences  they  are  under,  and  should 
accommodate  themselves  to"  But,  [2.]  We  will 
suppose  there  might  be  some  occasion  for  their  com¬ 
plaint.  First,  Some  suggest,  that  though  their  other 
poor  were  well  provided  for,  yet  their  widows  were 
neglected,  because  the  managers  governed  them¬ 
selves  by  an  ancient  rule  which  the  Hebrews  ob¬ 
served,  that  a  widow  was  to  be  maintained  by  her 
husband's  children.  See  1  Tim.  5.  4.  But,  Se¬ 
condly,  I  take  it,  that  the  widows  are  here  put  for 
all  the  poor,  because  many  of  them  that  were  in  the 
church-book,  and  received  alms,  were  widows,  who 
were  well  provided  for  by  the  industry  of  their  hus¬ 
bands  while  they  lived,  but  were  reduced  to  straits 
when  they  were  gone.  As  those  that  have  the  ad¬ 
ministration  of  public  justice.ought  in  a  particular 
manner  to  protect  widows  from  injury,  (Isa.  1.  17. 
Luke  18.  3.)  so  those  that  have  the  administration 
of  public  charity  ought  in  a  particular  manner  tc 
provide  for  widows  what  is  necessary.  See  1  Tim. 
5.  3.  And  observe,  the  widows  here,  and  the  other 
poor,  had  a  daily  ministration  ;  perhaps  they  wanted 
forecast,  and  could  not  save  for  hereafter,  and  there¬ 
fore  the  managers  of  the  fund,  in  kindness  to  them, 
gave  them  day  by  day  their  daily  bread ;  they  lived 
from  hand  to  mouth.  Now,  it  seems,  the  Grecian 
ividows  were,  comparatively,  neglected ;  perhaps 
those  that  disposed  of  the  money  considered  that 
there  was  more  brought  into  the  fund  by  the  rich 
Hebrews  than  was  by  the  rich  Grecians,  who  had 
not  estates  to  sell,  as  the  Hebrews  had,  and  there¬ 
fore  the  poor  Grecians  should  have  less  out  of  the 
fund ;  this,  though  there  was  some  tolerable  reason 
for  it,  they  thought  hard  and  unfair.  Note,  In  the 
best  ordered  church  in  the  world  there  will  be  some¬ 
thing  amiss,  some  mal-administration  or  other,  some 
grievances,  or  at  least  some  complaints ;  they  are 
the  best,  that  have  the  least  and  fewest. 

II.  The  happy  accommodating  of  this  matter,  and 
the  expedient  pitched  upon  for  the  taking  away  of 
the  cause  of  this  murmuring.  The  apostles  had 
hitherto  the  directing  of  the  matter,  applications 
were  made  to  them,  and  appeals  in  case  of  griev¬ 
ances  ;  they  were  obliged  to  employ  persons  under 
them,  who  did  not  take  all  the  care  they  might  have 
taken,  nor  were  so  well  fortified  as  they  should  have 
been  against  temptations  to  partiality  ;  and  therefore 
some  persons  must  be  chosen  to  manage  this  mat¬ 
ter,  wno  have  more  leisure  to  attend  it  than  the 
apostles  had,  and  were  better  qualified  for  the  trust 
than  those  whom  the  apostles  employed  were.  Now 
observe, 

1.  How  the  method  was  proposed  by  the  apos¬ 
tles  ;  They  called  the  multitude  of  the  disciples  unto 
them,  the  heads  of  the  congregations  of  Christians  in 
Jerusalem,  the  principal  leading  men.  The  twelve 
themselves  would  not  determine  any  thing  without 
them,  for  in  multitude  of  counsellors  there  is  safety  ; 


59 


THE  ACTS,  VI. 


and  in  an  affair  of  this  nature  they  might  be  best 
able  to  advise,  who  were  more  conversant  in  the 
affairs  of  this  life  than  the  apostles  were. 

(1.)  The  apostles  urge,  that  they  could  by  no 
means  admit  so  great  a  diversion,  as  this  would  be, 
from  their  great  work  ;  ( v .  2.)  It  is  not  reasonable 
that  we  should  leave  the  word  of  God,  and  serve 
tables.  Receiving  and  paying  money  was  serving 
tables,  too  like  the  tables  of  the  money-changers  in 
the  temple ;  this  was  foreign  to  the  business  which 
the  apostles  were  called  to,  they  were  to  preach  the 
word  of  God ;  and  though  they  had  not  such  oc¬ 
casion  to  study  for  what  they  preached  as  we  have, 
(it  being  given  in  that  same  hour  what  they  should 
speak,)  yet  they  thought  that  was  work  enough  for 
a  whole  man,  and  to  employ  all  their  thoughts,  and 
cares,  and  time,  though  one  man  of  them  was  more 
than  ten  of  us,  than  ten  thousand.  If  they  serve 
tables,  they  must,  in  some  measure,  leave  the  word 
of  God ;  they  could  not  attend  their  preaching  work 
so  closely  as  they  ought.  Pectora  nostra  cluas  non 
admittentia  curas — These  minds  of  ours  admit  not 
of  two  distinct  anxious  employments.  Though  this 
serving  tables  was  for  pious  uses,  and  serving  the 
charity  of  rich  Christians,  and  the  necessity  of  poor 
Christians,  and  in  both  serving  Christ,  yet  the  apos¬ 
tles  would  not  take  so  much  time  from  their  preach¬ 
ing  as  this  would  require.  They  will  no  more  be 
drawn  from  their  preaching  by  the  money  laid  at 
their  feet,  than  they  will  be  driven  from  it  by  the 
stripes  laid  on  their  backs.  While  the  number  of 
the  disciples  was  few,  the  apostles  might  manage 
this  matter  without  making  it  any  considerable 
avocation  from  their  main  business ;  but  now  that 
their  number  was  increased,  they  could  not  do  it. 
It  is  not  reason,  sk  ag*rcv  «r/ — it  is  not  fit  or  com¬ 
mendable,  that  we  should  neglect  the  business  of 
feeding  souls  with  the  bread  of  life,  to  attend  the 
business  of  relieving  the  bodies  of  the  poor.  Note, 
Preaching  the  gospel  is  the  best  work,  and  the  most 
proper  and  needful  that  a  minister  can  be  employed 
in,  and  that  which  he  must  give  himself  wholly  to, 
(1  Tim.  4.  15.)  which  that  he  may  do,  he  must  not 
entangle  himself  in  the  affairs  of  this  life,  (2  Tim.  2. 
4.)  no,  not  in  the  outward  business  of  the  house  of 
God,  Neh.  11.  16. 

(2.)  They  therefore  desire  that  seven  men  might 
be  chosen,  well  qualified  for  the  purpose,  whose 
business  it  should  be  to  serve  tables,  Sinxovih  t 

— to  be  deacons  to  the  tables,  v.  2.  The  busi¬ 
ness  must  be  minded,  must  be  better  minded  than 
it  had  been,  and  than  the  apostles  could  mind  it ;  and 
therefore  proper  persons  must  be  chosen,  who, 
though  they  might  be  occasionally  employed  in  the 
word,  and  prayer,  were  not  so  devoted  entirely  to 
it  as  the  apostles  were  ;  and  these  must  take  care  of 
the  church’s  stock,  must  review,  and  pay,  and  keep 
accounts;  must  buy  those  things  which  they  had 
need  of  against  the  feast,  (John  13.  29.)  and  attend 
to  all  those  things  which  are  necessary,  in  ordine  ad 
spiritualia — in  order  to  spiritual  exercises,  that  every 
thing  might  be  done  decently  and  in  order,  and  no 
person  or  thing  neglected.  Now, 

[1.]  The  persons  must  be  duly  qualified.  The 
people  are  to  choose,  and  the  apostles  to  ordain  ;  but 
the  people  have  no  authority  to  choose,  nor  the 
apostles  to  ordain  men  utterly  unfit  for  the  office ; 
Look  out  seven  men ;  so  many  they  thought  might 
suffice  for  the  present,  more  might  be  added  after¬ 
ward  if  there  were  occasion  ;  these  must  be,  First, 
Of  honest  report,  men  free  from  scandal,  that  were 
looked  upon  by  their  neighbours  as  men  of  integrity 
and  faithful  men,  well  attested,  as  men  that  might 
be  trusted ;  not  under  a  blemish  for  any  vice,  but, 
on  the  contrary,  well  spoken  of  for  every  thing  that 
is  virtuous  and  praiseworthy  ;  /un^vpa/uivHt — men  that 
can  produce  good  testimonials  concerning  their  con¬ 


versation.  Note,  Those  that  are  employed  in  any 
office  in  the  church,  ought  to  be  men  of  honest  re¬ 
port  ;  of  a  blameless,  nay,  of  a  beautiful  character, 
which  is  requisite  not  only  to  the  credit  of  their 
office,  but  to  the  due  discharge  of  it.  Secondly, 
They  must  be  full  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  must  be  filled 
with  those  gifts  and  graces  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  which 
were  necessary  to  the  right  management  of  this 
trust ;  they  must  not  only  be  honest  men,  but  they 
must  be  men  of  parts  and  men  of  courage ;  such  as 
were  to  be  made  judges  in  Israel,  (Exod.  18.  21.) 
able  men,  fearing  God;  men  of  truth,  and  hating 
covetousness  ;  and  hereby  appearing  to  be  full  of  the 
Holy  Ghost.  Thirdly,  They  must  be  pull  of  wis¬ 
dom.  It  was  not  enough  that  they  were  honest, 
good  men,  but  they  must  be  discreet,  judicious  men, 
that  could  not  be  imposed  upon,  and  would  order 
things  for  the  best,  and'  with  consideration  :  full  of 
the  Holy  Ghost,  and  wisdom,  that  is,  of  the  Holy 
Ghost  as  a  Spirit  of  wisdom.  We  find  the  word  of 
wisdom  given  by  the  Spirit,  as  distinct  from  the  word 
of  knowledge  by  the  same  Spirit,  1  Cor.  12.  8.  They 
must  be  full  of  wisdom,  who  are  entrusted  with 
public  money,  that  it  may  be  disposed  of,  not  only 
with  fidelity,  but  with  frugality. 

[2.]  The  people  must  nominate  the  persons; 
“ Look  ye  out  among  you  seven  men,  consider 
among  yourselves  who  are  the  fittest  for  such  a  trust, 
and  whom  you  can  with  the  most  satisfaction  con¬ 
fide  in.”  They  might  be  presumed  to  know  better, 
or  at  least  were  fitter  to  inquire,  what  character 
men  had,  than  the  apostles ;  and  therefore  they  are 
entrusted  with  the  choice. 

[3.]  The  apostles  will  ordain  them  to  the  service, 
will  give  them  their  charge,  that  they  may  know 
what  they  have  to  do,  and  make  conscience  of  doing 
it ;  and  give  them  their  authority,  that  the  persons 
concerned  may  know  whom  they  are  to  apply  to, 
and  submit  to, 'in  affairs  of  that  nature  ;  men,  whom 
we  may  appoint.  In  many  editions  of  our  English 
Bibles,  there  has  been  an  error  of  the  press  here, 
for  they  have  read  it,  whom  ye  may  appoint ;  as  if 
the  power  were  in  the  people ;  whereas  it  was  cer¬ 
tainly  in  the  apostles  ;  whom  we  may  appoint  over 
this  business;  to  take  care  of  it,  and  to  see  that  there 
be  neither  waste  nor  want. 

(3.)  The  apostles  engage  to  addict  themselves 
wholly  to  their  work  as  ministers,  and  the  more 
closely,  if  they  can  but  get  fairly  quit  of  this  trouble¬ 
some  office ;  \v.  4.)  We  will  gwe  ourselves  con¬ 
tinually  to  prayer,  and  to  the  ministry  of  the  word. 
See  here,  [1.]  What  are  the  two  great  gospel-or¬ 
dinances— Me  word,  and  prayer;  by  these  two  com¬ 
munion  between  God  and  his  people  is  kept  up  and 
maintained ;  by  the  word  he  speaks  to  them,  and  by 
prayer  they  speak  to  him  ;  and  these  have  a  mutual 
reference  to  each  other.  By  these  two  the  king¬ 
dom  of  Christ  must  be  advanced,  and  additions  made 
to  it ;  we  must  prophesy  upon  the  dry  bones,  and 
then  pray  for  a  spirit  of  life  from  God  to  enter  into 
them.  B  v  the  word  and  'prayer  other  ordinances 
are  sanctified  to  us,  and  sacraments  have  their  effi¬ 
cacy.  [2.]  What  is  the  great  business  of  gospel- 
ministers  ;  to  give  themselves  continually  to  prayer, 
and  to  the  ministry  of  the  word ;  they  must  still  be 
either  fitting  and  furnishing  themselves  for  those 
services,  or  employing  themselves  in  them  ;  either 
publicly  or  privately  ;  in  the  stated  times,  or  out  of 
them.  They  must  be  God’s  mouth  to  the  people  in 
the  ministry  of  the  word,  and  the  people’s  mouth  to 
God  in  prayer.  In  order  to  the  conviction  and  con 
version  of  sinners,  and  the  edification  and  consolation 
of  saints,  we  must  not  only  offer  up  our  prayers  for 
them,  but  we  must  minister  the  word  to  them,  se 
conding  our  prayers  with  our  endeavours,  in  the  use 
of  appointed  means ;  nor  must  we  only  minister  the 
|  word  to  them,  but  we  must  pray  for  them,  that  it 


GO 


THE  ACTS,  VI. 


may  be  effectual ;  for  God’s  grace  can  do  all  without  1 
our  preaching,  but  our  preaching  can  do  nothing  j 
without  God’s  grace.  The  apostles  were  endued 
with  extraordinary  gifts  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  tongues 
and  miracles ;  and  yet  that  which  they  gave  them¬ 
selves  continually  to,  was,  preaching  and  praying, 
by  which  they  might  edify  the  church :  and  those 
ministers,  without  doubt,  are  the  successors  of  the 
apostles,  (not  in  the  plenitude  of  the  apostolical 
power,  those  are  daring  usurpers  who  pretend  to 
that,  but  in  the  best  and  most  excellent  of  the 
apostolical  works,)  whogroe  themselves  continually 
to  prayer,  and  to  the  ministry  oj  the  word;  and  such 
Christ  will  always  be  with,  even  to  the  end  of  the 
world. 

2.  How  this  proposal  was  agreed  to,  and  presently 
put  in  execution,  by  the  disciples ;  it  was  not  im¬ 
posed  upon  them  by  an  absolute  power,  though  they 
might  have  been  bold  in  Christ  to  do  that,  (Philem. 

8. )  but  proposed,  as  that  which  was  highly  conve¬ 
nient,  and  then  the  saying  pleased  the  whole  multi¬ 
tude,  v.  5.  It  pleased  them  to  see  the  apostles  so 
willing  to  discharge  themselves  from  intermeddling 
in  secular  affairs,  and  so  to  transmit  them  to  others; 
it  pleased  them  to  hear  that  they  would  give  them¬ 
selves  to  the  word  and  prayer;  and  therefore  they 
neither  disputed  the  matter,  nor  deferred  the  exe¬ 
cution  of  it. 

(1.)  They  pitched  upon  the  persons;  it  is  not 
probable  that  they  all  cast  their  eye  upon  the  same 
men  ;  every  one  had  his  friend,  whom  he  thought 
well  of ;  but  the  majority  of  votes  fell  upon  the  per¬ 
sons  here  named ;  and  the  rest  both  of  the  candidates 
and  electors  acquiesced,  and  made  no  disturbance, 
as  the  members  of  societies  in  such  cases  ought  to 
do.  An  apostle,  who  was  an  extraordinary  officer, 
"as  chosen  by  lot,  which  is  more  immediately  the 
act  of  God ;  but  the  overseers  of  the  poor  were 
chosen  by  the  suffrage  of  the  people;  in  which 
yet  a  regard  is  to  be  had  to  the  providence  of  God, 
who  has  all  men’s  hearts  and  tongues  in  his 
hand. 

We  have  a  list  of  the  persons  chosen  ;  some  think, 
that  they  were  such  as  were  before  of  the  seventy 
disciples;  but  that  is  not  likely;  for  they  were  or¬ 
dained  by  Christ  himself,  long  since,  to  preach  the 
gospel ;  and  there  was  no  more  reason  that  they 
should  leave  the  word  of  God  to  serve  tables  than 
that  the  apostles  should  ;  it  is  therefore  more  proba¬ 
ble  that  they  were  of  those  that  were  converted 
since  the  pouring  cut  of  the  Spirit ;  for  it  was  pro¬ 
mised  to  all  that  would  be  baptized,  that  they  should 
receive  the  gift  of  the  Holy  Ghost ;  and  the  gift,  ac¬ 
cording  to  that  promise,  is  that  fulness  of  the  Holy 
Ghost,  which  was  required  in  those  that'were  to  be 
chosen  to  this  service.  We  mav  further  conjecture, 
concerning  these  seven,  [I.]  That  they  were  such 
as  had  sold  their  estates,  and  brought  the  money 
into  the  common  stock  ;  for,  cteteris  paribus — other 
things  being  equal,  those  were  fittest  to  be  entrusted 
with  the  distribution  of  it,  who  had  been  most  gener¬ 
ous  in  the  contribution  to  it.  [2.]  That  these  seven 
were  all  of  the  Grecian  or  Hellenist  Jews,  for  they 
have  all  Greek  names,  and  this  would  be  most  likely 
to  silence  the  murmurings  of  the  Grecians,  (which 
occasioned  this  institution,)  to  have  the  trust  lodged 
in  those  that  were  foreigners,  like  themselves,  who  I 
would  be  sure  not  to  neglect  them.  Nicolas,  it  is  * 
plain,  was  one  of  them,  for  he  was  a  proselyte  of 
Antioch ;  and  some  think  that  the  manner  of  ex¬ 
pression  intimates,  that  they  were  all  proselytes  of 
Jerusalem,  as  he  was  of  Antioch. 

The  first  named  is  Stephen,  the  glorv  of  these 
s  eptem-viri;  a  man  full  of  faith  and  of  the  Holy 
Ghost ;  he  had  a  strong  fai’h  in  the  doctrine  of 
Christ,  and  was  full  of  it  above  most ;  full  of  fidelity, 
full  of  courage ;  (so  some ;)  for  he  was  full  of  the  1 


Holy  Ghost,  of  his  gifts  and  graces ;  he  was  an  ex¬ 
traordinary  man,  and  excelled  in  every  thing  that 
was  good ;  his  name  signifies  a  crown.  Philip  is 
put  next,  because  he,  having  used  this  offee  of  a  dea¬ 
con  well,  thereby  obtained  a  good  degree,  and.  was 
afterward  ordained  to  the  office  of  an  evangelist,  a 
companion  and  assistant  to  the  apostles,  for  so  he  is 
expressly  called,  ch.  21.  8.  Compare  Eph.  4.  11. 
And  his  preaching  and  baptizing  (which  we  read  of 
ch.  8.  12.)  were  certainly  not  as  a  deacon,  (for  it  is 
plain  that  that  office  was  serving  tables,  in  opposi¬ 
tion  to  the  ministry  of  the  word,)  but  as  an  evange¬ 
list  ;  and  when  he  was  preferred  to  that  office,  we 
have  reason  to  think  he  quitted  this  office,  as  incom¬ 
patible  with  that.  As  for  Stephen,  nothing  we  find 
done  by  him  proves  him  to  be  a  preacher  of  the  gos¬ 
pel ;  for  he  only  disputes  in  the  schools,  and  pleads 
for  his  life  at  the  bar,  v.  9.  and  ch.  7.  2. 

The  last  named  is  Nicolas,  who,  some  say,  after¬ 
ward  degenerated,  (as  the  Judas  among  these  seve?i,) 
and  was  the  founder  of  the  sect  of  the  Arico/aitans, 
which  we  read  of,  (Rev.  2.  6,  15.)  and  which  Christ 
there  says,  once  and  again,  was  a  thing  he  hated. 
But  some  of  the  ancients  clear  him  from  that  charge, 
and  tell  us,  that  though  that  vile  impure  sect  de¬ 
nominated  themselves  from  him,  yet  it  was  unjustly, 
and  because  he  only  insisted  much  upon  it,  that  they 
that  had  wives,  should  be  as  though  they  had  none, 
thence  they  wickedly  inferred,  that  they  that  had 
wives ,  should  have  them  in  common;  which  there¬ 
fore  Tertullian,  when  he  speaks  of  the  community 
of  goods,  particularly  excepts,  Omnia  indiscreta 
apud  nos,  preeter  uxores — All  things  are  common 
among  us,  except  our  wives.  Apol.  cap.  39. 

(2.)  The  apostles  appointed-them  to  this  work  of 
serving  tables  for  the  present,  v.  6.  The  people 
presented  them  to  the  apostles,  who  approved  their 
choice,  and  ordained  them.  [1.]  They  prayed  with 
them,  and  for  them,  that  God  would  give  them  more 
and  more  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  of  wisdom ;  that 
he  would  qualify  them  for  the  service  to  which  they 
were  called,  and  own  them  in  it,  and  make  them 
thereby  a  blessing  to  the  church,  and  particularly  to 
the  poor  of  the  flock.  All  that  are  employed  in  the 
service  of*  the  church,  ought  to  be  committed  to  the 
conduct  of  the  divine  grace  by  the  prayers  of  the 
church.  [2.]  They  laid  their  hands  on  them,  that 
is,  they  blessed  them  in  the  name  of  the  Lord,  for 
laying  on  hands  was  used  in  blessing ;  so  Jacob  bless¬ 
ed  both  the  sons  of  Joseph  ;  and,  without  controversy, 
the  less  is  blessed  of  the  greater ;  (Heb.  7.  7.)  the 
deacons  are  blessed  by  the  apostles,  and  the  over¬ 
seers  of  the  poor  by  the  pastors  of  the  congregation. 
Having  by  prayer  implored  a  blessing  upon  them, 
they  did  by  the  laying  on  of  hands  assure  them  that 
the  blessing  was  conferred  in  answer  to  the  prayer ; 
and  this  was  giving  them  authority  to  execute  that 
office,  and  laying  an  obligation  upon  the  people  to 
be  observant  of  them  therein. 

III.  The  advancement  of  the  church  hereupon  ; 
when  things  were  thus  put  into  good  order  in  the 
church,  (grievances  were  redressed  and  discontents 
silenced,)  then  religion  got  ground,  v.  7. 

1.  The  word  of  God  inn-eased;  now  that  the 
apostles  resolved  to  stick  more  closely  than  ever  to 
their  preaching,  it  spread  the  gospel  further,  and 
brought  it  home  with  the  more  power.  Ministers, 
disentangling  themselves  from  secular  employments, 
and  addicting  themselves  entirely  and  vigorously  to 
their  work,  will  contribute  very  much,  as  a  means, 
to  the  success  of  the  gospel.  The  word  of  God  is 
said  to  increase,  as  the  seed  sown  increases,  when  it 
comes  up  again  thirty ,  sixty,  a  hundred  fold. 

2.  Christians  grow  numerous  ;  The  number  of  the 
disciples  multiplied  in  .//  rusalem  greatly.  \Vhcn 
Christ  was  upon  earth,  his  ministry  had  least  sue 
cess  in  Jerusalem  ;  yet  now  that  city  affords  most 


THL  ACTS,  VI. 


61 


converts.  God  has  his  remnant  even  in  the  worst 
of  places. 

3.  A  great  company  of  the  priests  were  obedient  to 
the  faith.  Then  is  the  word  and  grace  of  God  great¬ 
ly  magnified,  when  those  are  wrought  upon  by  it, 
that  were  least  likely,  as  the  priests  here,  who 
either  had  opposed  it,  or  at  least  were  linked  in 
with  those  that  had.  The  priests,  whose  prefer¬ 
ments  arose  from  the  law  of  Moses,  were  yet  wil¬ 
ling  to  let  them  go  for  the  gospel  of  Christ ;  and,  it 
should  seem,  they  came  in  in  a  body  ;  many  of 
them  agreed  together ,  for  the  keeping  up  of  one 
another’s  credit,  and  the  strengthening  of  one  ano¬ 
ther’s  hands,  to  join  at  once  in  giving  up  their  names 
to  Christ :  vox v(_  — a  great  crowd  of  priests 

were  by  the  grace  of  God  helped  over  their  preju¬ 
dices,  and  were  obedient  to  the  faith,  so  their  con¬ 
version  is  described.  (1.)  They  embraced  the  doc¬ 
trine  of  the  gospel ;  their  understandings  were  cap¬ 
tivated  to  the  power  of  the  truths  of  Christ,  and 
every  opposing,  objecting  thought,  brought  into  obe¬ 
dience  to  him,  2  Cor.  10.  4,  5.  The  gospel  is  said  to 
be  made  known  for  the  obedience  of  faith,  Rom.  16. 
26.  Faith  is  an  act  of  obedience,  lor  this  is  God’s 
commandment,  that  we  believe,  1  John  3.  23.  (2.) 

They  evidenced  the  sincerity  of  their  believing  the 
gospel  of  Christ  by  a  cheerful  compliance  with  all 
the  rules  and  precepts  of  the  gospel.  The  design 
of  the  gospel  is  to  refine  and  reform  our  hearts  and 
lives  ;  faith  gives  law  to  us,  and  we  must  be  obedi¬ 
ent  to  it. 

8.  And  Stephen,  full  of  faith  and  power, 
did  great  wonders  and  miracles  among  the 
people.  9.  Then  there  arose  certain  of  the 
synagogue,  which  is  called  the  synagogue 
of  the  Libertines,  and  Cyrenians,  and 
Alexandrians,  and  of  them  of  Cilicia  and 
of  Asia,  disputing  with  Stephen.  10.  And 
they  were  not  able  to  resist  the  wisdom 
and  the  spirit  by  which  he  spake.  1 1 . 
Then  they  suborned  men,  which  said,  We 
have  heard  him  speak  blasphemous  words 
against  Moses,  and  against  God.  12.  And 
they  stirred  up  the  people,  and  the  elders, 
and  the  Scribes,  and  came  upon  him,  and 
caught  him,  and  brought  him  to  the  coun¬ 
cil,  1 3.  And  set  up  false  witnesses,  which 
said,  This  man  ceaseth  not  to  speak  blas¬ 
phemous  words  against  this  holy  place,  and 
the  law  :  1 4.  For  we  have  heard  him  say, 
that  this  Jesus  of  Nazareth  shall  destroy 
this  place,  and  shall  change  the  customs 
which  Moses  delivered  us.  15.  And  all 
that  sat  in  the  council,  looking  stedfastly 
on  him,  saw  his  face  as  it  had  been  the  face 
of  an  angel. 

Stephen,  no  doubt,  was  diligent  and  faithful  in  the 
discharge  of  his  office  as  distributor  of  the  church’s 
charity,  and  laid  out  himself  to  put  that  affair  in  a 
good  method,  and  did  it  to  universal  satisfaction  ; 
and  though  it  appears  here  that  he  was  a  man  of  un¬ 
common  gifts,  and  fitted  for  a  higher  station,  yet, 
being  called  to  that  office,  he  did  not  think  it  below 
him  to  do  the  duty  of  it.  And  being  faithful  in  a 
little,  he  was  intrusted  with  more ;  and  though  we 
do  not  find  him  propagating  the  gospel  by  preaching 
and  baptizing,  yet  we  find  him  here  called  out  to 
very  honourable  services,  and  owned  in  them. 


I.  He  proved  the  truth  of  the  gospel,  by  working 
miracles  in  Christ’s  name,  v.  8. 

1.  He  was  full  of  faith  and  power,  that  is,  of  a 
strong  faith,  by  which  he  was  enabled  to  do  great 
things.  They  that  are  full  of  faith,  are  full  of  pow 
er,  because  by  faith  the  power  of  God  is  engaged 
for  us.  His  faith  did  so  fill  him,  that  it  left  no  room 
for  unbelief,  and  made  room  for  the  influences  <  f 
divine  grace,  so  that,  as  the  prophet  speaks,  he  was 
full  of  power  by  the  S/iirit  of  the  Lord  of  hosts,  Mic. 
3.  8.  By  faith  we  are  emptied  of  self,  and  so  are 
filled  with  Christ,  who  is  the  wisdom  of  God,  and 
the  power  of  God. 

2.  Being  so,  he  did  great  wonders  and  miracles 
among  the  people,  openly,  and  in  the  sight  of  all  ; 
for  Christ’s  miracles  feared  not  the  strictest  scruti¬ 
ny.  It  is  not  strange  that  Stephen,  though  he  was 
not  a  preacher  by  office',  did  these  great  wonders, 
for  we  find  that  these  were  distinct  gifts  of  the 
Spirit,  and  divided  severally,  for  to  one  was  given 
the  working  of  miracles,  and  to  another  prophecy, 
1  Cor.  12.  10,  11.  And  those  signs  followed  not  only 
them  that  preached,  but  them  that  believed,  Mark 
16.  17. 

II.  He  pleaded  the  cause  of  Christianity  against 
those  that  opposed  it,  and  argued  against  it  ;  ( v .  9, 
10.)  he  served  the  interests  of  religion  as  a  dispu¬ 
tant,  in  the  high  places  of  the  field,  while  others 
were  serving  them  as  vinedressers  and  husband¬ 
men. 

1.  We  are  here  told  who  were  his  opponents,  v. 
9.  They  were  Jews,  but  Hellenist  Jews,  Jews  of 
the  dispersion,  who  seem  to  have  been  more  zealous 
for  their  religion  than  the  native  Jews  ;  it  was  with 
difficulty  that  they  retained  the  practice  and  profes¬ 
sion  of  it  in  the  country  where  they  lived,  where 
they  were  as  speckled  birds,  and  not  without  great 
expense  and  toil  that  they  kept  up  their  attendance 
at  Jerusalem,  and  this  made  them  more  active 
sticklers  for  Judaism  than  they  were,  whose  pro¬ 
fession  of  their  religion  was  cheap  and  easy.  They 
were  of  the  synagogue  which  is  called  the  syna¬ 
gogue  of  the  Libertines ;  the  Romans  called  those 
Liberti  or  Libertini,  who,  either  being  foreigners, 
were  naturalized,  or,  being  slaves  by  birth,  were 
manumised,  or  made  freemen.  Some  think  that 
these  Libertines  were  such  of  the  Jews  as  had  ob¬ 
tained  the  Roman  freedom,  as  Paul  had  ;  ( ch .  22. 
27,  28. )  and  it  is  probable  that  he  was  the  most  for¬ 
ward  man  of  this  synagogue  of  the  Libertines  in  dis¬ 
puting  with  Stephen,  and  engaged  others  in  the  dis¬ 
pute  ;  for  we  find  him  busy  in  the  stoning  of  Ste¬ 
phen,  and  consenting  to  his  death.  There  were 
others  that  belonged  to  the  synagogue  of  the  Cyre¬ 
nians  and  Alexandrians,  of  which  synagogue  the 
Jewish  writers  speak  ;  and  others  that  belonged  to 
their  synagogue,  who  were  of  Cilicia  and  Asia  ;  and 
if  Paul,  as  a  freeman  of  Rome,  did  not  belong  to  the 
synagogue  of  the  Libertines,  he  belonged  to  this,  as 
a  native  of  Tarsus,  a  city  of  Cilicia  ;  it  is  probable 
that  he  might  be  a  member  of  both.  The  Jews  that 
were  born  in  other  countries,  and  had  concerns  in 
them,  had  frequent  occasion,  not  only  to  resort  to, 
but  to  reside  in,  Jerusalem.  Each  nation  had  its 
synagogue,  as  in  London  there  are  French,  and 
Dutch,  and  Danish  churches  :  and  those  synagogues 
were  the  schools  to  which  the  Jews  ol  those  nations 
sent  their  youth  to  be  educated  in  the  Jewish  learn¬ 
ing.  Now  those  that  were  tutors  and  professors  in 
these  svnagogues,  seeing  the  gospel  grow,  and  the 
rulers  conniving  at  the  growth  of  it,  and  fearing 
what  would  be  the  consequence  of  it  to  the  Jewish 
religion,  which  they  were  jealous  for,  being  confi¬ 
dent  of  the  goodness  of  their  cause,  and  their  own 
sufficiency  to  manage  it,  would  undertake  to  run 
down  Christianity  by  force  of  argument ;  it  was  a 
fair  and  rational  way.  of  dealing  with  it,  and  what 


62 


THE  ACTS,  VI. 


religion  is  always  ready  to  admit ;  Produce  your  i] 
cause,  saith  the  Lord,  bring  forth  your  strong  rea¬ 
sons,  Isa.  41.  21.  But  why  did  they  dispute  with 
Stephen  ?  And  why  not  with  the  apostles  them¬ 
selves?  (1.)  Some  think,  because  they  despised  the 
apostles  as  unlearned  and  ignorant  men,  whom  they 
thought  it  below  them  to  engage  with  ;  but  Stephen 
was  bred  a  scholar,  and  they  thought  it  their  honour 
to  meddle  with  their  match.  (2.)  Others  think,  it 
was  because  they  stood  in  awe  of  the  apostles,  and 
could  not  be  so  free  and  familiar  with  them,  as  they 
could  be  with  Stephen,  who  was  in  an  inferior  of¬ 
fice.  (3.)  Perhaps  they  having  given  a  public  chal¬ 
lenge,  Stephen  was  chosen  and  appointed  by  the 
disciples  to  be  their  champion  ;  for  it  was  not  meet 
that  the  apostles  should  leave  the  preaching  of  the 
word  of  God,  to  engage  in  controversy.  Stephen, 
who  was  only  a  deacon  in  the  church,  and  a  very 
sharp  young  man,  and  of  bright  parts,  and  better 
qualified  to  deal  with  wrangling  disputants  than  the 
apostles  themselves,  is  appointed  to  this  service. 
Some  historians  say,  that  Stephen  had  been  bred  up 
at  the  feet  of  Gamaliel,  and  that  Saul  and  the  rest 
of  them  set  upon  him  as  a  deserter,  and  with  a  par¬ 
ticular  fury  made  him  their  mark.  (4.)  It  is  proba¬ 
ble  that  they  disputed  with  Stephen,  because  he  was 
zealous  to  argue  with  them,  and  convince  them.  And 
this  was  the  service  which  God  had  called  him  to. 

2.  We  are  here  told  how  he  carried  the  point  in 
this  dispute ;  ( v .  10.)  They  were  not  able  to  resist 
the  wisdom  and  the  Spirit  by  which  he  spake.  They 
could  not  either  support  their  own  arguments,  or 
answer  his.  He  proved  by  such  irresistible  argu¬ 
ments,  that  Jesus  is  the  Christ,  and  delivered  him¬ 
self  with  so  much  clearness  and  fulness,  that  they  had 
nothing  to  object  against  what  he  said  ;  though  they 
were  not  convinced,  yet  they  were  confounded.  It 
is  not  said,  They  were  not  able  to  resist  him,  but, 
They  were  not  able  to  resist  the  wisdom  and  the 
Spirit  by  which  he  spake,  that  Spirit  of  wisdom 
which  spake  by  him.  Now  was  fulfilled  that  pro¬ 
mise,  Twill  give  you  a  mouth  and  wisdom  which  all 
your  adversaries  shall  not  be  able  to  gainsay  or  re¬ 
sist,  Luke  21.  15.  They  thought  they  only  dis¬ 
puted  with  Stephen,  and  could  make  their  part 
good  with  him  ;  but  they  were  disputing  with  the 
Spirit  of  God  in  him,  for  whom  they  were  an  un¬ 
equal  match. 

III.  At  length,  he  sealed  it  with  his  blood ;  so  we 
shall  find  he  did  in  the  next  chapter,  here  we  have 
some  steps  taken  by  his  enemies  towards  it.  When 
they  could  not  answer  his  arguments  as  a  disputant, 
they  prosecuted  him  as  a  criminal,  and  suborned 
witnesses  against  him,  to  swear  blasphemy  upon 
him.  "  On  such  terms  (saith  Mr.  Baxter  here)  do 
we  dispute  with  malignant  men.  And  it  is  next  to 
a  miracle  of  providence,  that  no  greater  number  of 
religious  persons  have  been  murdered  in  the  world, 
by  the  way  of  perjury  and  pretence  of  law,  when  so 
many  thousands  hate  them,  who  make  no  conscience 
of  false  oaths.”  Thev  suborned  men,  instructed 
them  what  to  say,  and  then  hired  them  to  swear  it. 
They  were  the  more  enraged  against  him,  because 
be  had  proved  them  to  be  in  the  wrong,  and  shewed 
them  the  right  wav  ;  for  which  thev  ought  to  have 
given  him  their  best  thanks;  was  he  therefore  be¬ 
come  their  enema,  because  he  told  them  the  truth, 
and  proved  it  to  be  so  ?  Now  let  us  observe  here, 

1.  How  with  all  possible  art  and  industry  they  in¬ 
censed  both  the  government  and  the  mob  against 
him,  that,  if  they  could  not  prevail  by  the  onej  thev 
might  bv  the  other ;  (v.  12.)  Thru  stirred  up  the  peo¬ 
ple  against  him.  that,  if  the  Sanhedrim  should  still 
think  fit  (according  to  Gamaliel’s  advice)  to  let  him 
alone,  vet  thev  might  run  him  down  by  a  popular 
rage  and  tumult  ;  they  also  find  means  to  stir  up  the 
°ldcrs  and  the  scribes  against  him.  that,  if  the  peo¬ 


ple  should  countenance  and  protect  him,  they  might 
prevail  by  authority.  Thus  they  doubted  not  but  to 
gain  their  point,  when  they  had  two  strings  to  their 
bow. 

2.  How  they  got  him  to  the  bar  ;  They  came  upon 
him,  when  he  little  thought  of  it,  and  caught  him, 
and  brought  him  to  the  council.  They  came  upon 
him  in  a  body,  and  flew  upon  him  as  a  lion  on  his 
prey  ;  so  the  word  signifies.  By  their  rude  and  vio¬ 
lent  treatment  of  him,  they  would  represent  him, 
both  to  the  people  and  to  the  government,  as  a  dan¬ 
gerous  man,  that  would  either  flee  from  justice  if  he 
were  not  watched,  or  fight  with  it  if  he  were  not 
put  under  a  force.  Having  caught  him,  they  brought 
him  triumphantly  into  the  council,  and,  as  it  should 
seem,  so  hastily,  that  he  had  none  of  his  friends 
with  him.  They  had  found,  when  they  brought 
many  together,  that  they  emboldened  one  another, 
and  strengthened  one  another’s  hands :  and  there¬ 
fore  they  will  try  how  to  deal  with  them  singly. 

3.  How  they  were  prepared  with  evidence  ready 
to  produce  against  him  ;  they  were  resolved  that 
they  would  not  be  run  aground,  as  they  were  when 
they  brought  our  Saviour  upon  his  trial,  and  then 
were  to  seek  for  witnesses.  These  were  got  ready 
beforehand,  and  were  instructed  to  make  oath,  that 
they  had  heard  him  speak  blasphemous  words 
against  Moses,  and  against  God,  (v.  11.)  against 
this  holy  place  and  the  law  ;  (y.  13.)  for  they  heard 
him  say,  what  Jesus  would  do  to  their  place  and 
their  customs,  v.  14.  It  is  probable  that  he  had 
said  something  to  that  purport  ;  and  yet  they  who 
swore  it  against  him  are  called  false  witnesses,  be¬ 
cause,  though  there  was  something  of  truth  in  their 
testimony,  yet  they  put  a  wrong  and  malicious  con¬ 
struction  upon  what  he  had  said,  and  perverted  it. 
Observe, 

(1.)  What  was  the  general  charge  exhibited 
against  him — that  he  spake  blasphemous  words; 
and,  to  aggravate  the  matter,  "  He  ceases  not  to 
speak  blasphemous  words  ;  it  is  his  common  talk, 
his  discourse  in  all  companies ;  wheresoever  he 
comes,  he  makes  it  his  business  to  instil  his  notions 
into  all  he  converses  with.”  It  intimates  likewise 
something  of  contumacy  and  contempt  of  admoni¬ 
tion.  “He  has  been  warned  against  it,  and  yet 
ceases  not  to  talk  at  this  rate.  ”  Blasphemy  is  justly 
reckoned  a  heinous  crime,  (to  speak  contemptibly 
and  reproachfully  of  God  our  Maker,)  and  therefore 
Stephen’s  persecutors  would  be  thought  to  have  a 
deep  concern  upon  them  for  the  honour  of  God’s 
name,  and  to  do  this  in  a  jealousy  for  that.  As  it 
was  with  the  confessors  and  martyrs  of  the  Old 
Testament,  so  it  was  with  those  of  the  New — their 
brethren  that  haled  them,  and  cast  them  out,  said. 
Let  the  Lord  be  glorified ;  and  pretended  they  did 
him  service  in  it. 

He  is  said  to  have  spoken  blasphemous  words 
against  Moses  and  against  God.  Thus  far  they 
were  right,  that  thev  who  blaspheme  Moses,  (if 
thev  mean  the  writings  of  Moses,  which  were  given 
bv  inspiration  of  God,)  blaspheme  God  himself. 
They  that  speak  reproachfully  of  the  scriptures, 
and  ridicule  them,  reflect  upon  God  himself,  and  do 
despite  to  him.  His  great  intention  is  to  magnify 
the  late,  and  make  it  honourable ;  those  therefore 
that  vilifv  the  law,  and  make  it  contemptible,  blas¬ 
pheme  his  name  ;  for  he  has  magnified  his  word- 
above  all  his  name. 

But  did  Stephen  blaspheme  Moses  ?  Bv  no  means, 
he  was  far  from  it.  Christ,  and  the  preachers  of 
his  gospel,  never  said  any  thing  that  looked  like 
blaspheming  Moses;  thev  always  quoted  his  writ¬ 
ings  with  respect,  appealed  to  them,  and  sai  l  no 
other  things  than  what  Moses  said  should  c  >mr ; 
very  unjustlv  therefore  is  Stephen  indicted  for  h'as- 
pheming  Moses.  But, 


THE  ACTS,  V1J. 


63 


(2.)  Let  us  see  how  this  charge  is  supported  and 
made  out ;  why,  truly,  when  the  thing  was  to  be 
roved,  all  they  can  charge  him  with,  is,  that  he 
ath  spoke?t  blasphemous  words  against  the  holy 
place  and  the  law  ;  and  this  must  be  deemed  and 
taken  as  blasphemy  against  Moses  and  against  God 
himself.  Thus  does  the  charge  dwindle  when  it 
comes  to  the  evidence.  [1.]  He  is  charged  with 
blaspheming  this  holy  place.  Some  understand  that 
of  the  city  of  Jerusalem,  which  was  the  holy  city , 
and  which  they  had  a  mighty  jealousy  for.  But  it  is 
rather  meant  of  the  temple,  that  holy  house.  Christ 
was  condemned  as  a  blasphemer,  for  words  which 
were  thought  to  reflect  upon  the  temple,  which  they 
seemed  concerned  for  the  honour  of,  then  when  they 
by  their  wickedness  had  profaned  it.  [2.]  He  is 
charged  with  blaspheming  the  law  ;  of  which  they 
made  their  boast ,  and  in  which  they  put  their  trust, 
then,  when  through  breaking  of  the  law  they  disho¬ 
noured  God,  Rom.  2.  23. 

Well,  but  how  can  they  make  this  out  ?  Why 
here  the  charge  dwindles  again ;  for  all  they  can  ac¬ 
cuse  him  of,  is,  that  they  had  themselves  heard  him 
say  (but  how  it  came  in,  or  what  explication  he  gave 
of  it,  they  think  not  themselves  bound  to  give  ac¬ 
count,)  that  this  Jesus  of  Nazareth,  who  was  so 
much  talked  of,  shall  destroy  this  place,  and  change 
the  customs  which  Moses  delivered  us.  He  could 
not  be  charged  with  having  said  any  thing  to  the 
disparagement  either  of  the  temple  or  of  the  law. 
The  priests  had  themselves  profaned  the  temple,  by 
making  it  not  only  a  house  of  merchandise,  but  a 
den  of  thieves ;  yet  they  would  be  thought  zealous 
for  the  honour  of  it,  against  one  that  had  never  said 
any  thing  amiss  of  it,  but  had  attended  it  more  as  a 
house  of  prayer,  according  to  the  true  intention  of 
it,  than  they  had.  Nor  had  he  ever  reproached  the 
law,  as  they  had. 

But,  First,  He  had  said,  Jesus  of  Nazareth  shall 
destroy  this  place ;  destroy  the  temple,  destroy  Je¬ 
rusalem,  it  is  probable  that  he  might  say  so ;  and 
what  blasphemy  is  it  against  the  holy  place,  to  say, 
that  it  should  not  be  perpetual  any  more  than  Shiloh 
was,  and  that  the  just  and  holy  God  would  not  con¬ 
tinue  the  privileges  of  his  sanctuary  to  those  that 
abuse  them  ?  Had  not  the  prophets  given  the  same 
warning  to  their  fathers,  of  the  destruction  of  that 
holy  place  by  the  Chaldeans  ?  Nay,  when  the  tem¬ 
ple  was  first  built,  had  not  God  himself  given  the 
same  warning  ;  This  house,  which  is  high,  shall  be  an 
astonishment,  2  Chron.  7.  21.  And  is  he  a  blasphe¬ 
mer  then,  who  tells  them  that  Jesus  of  Nazareth,  if 
they  continue  their  opposition  to  him,  will  bring  a 
just  destruction  upon  their  place  and  nation,  and 
they  may  thank  themselves  ?  Those  wickedly  abuse 
their  profession  of  religion,  who,  under  colour  of 
that,  call  the  reproofs  given  them  for  their  disagree¬ 
able  conversations,  blasphemous  reflections  upon 
their  religion. 

Secondly,  He  had  said,  This  Jesus  shall  change 
the  customs  which  Moses  delivered  us.  And  it  was 
expected  that  in  the  days  of  the  Messiah  they 
should  be  changed,  and  that  the  shadows  should  be 
done  away  when  the  substance  was  come  ;  yet  this 
was  no  essential  change  of  the  law,  but  the  perfect¬ 
ing  of  it ;  Christ  came,  not  to  destroy,  but  to  fulfil, 
the  law  ;  and  if  he  changed  some  customs  that  Mo¬ 
ses  delivered,  it  was  to  introduce  and  establish  those 
that  were  much  better ;  and  if  the  Jewish  church 
had  not  obstinately  refused  to  come  into  this  new  es¬ 
tablishment,  and  adhered  to  the  ceremonial  law,  for 
aught  I  know,  their  place  had  not  been  destroyed ; 
so  that  for  putting  them  into  a  certain  way  to  pre¬ 
vent  their  destruction,  and  for  giving  them  certain 
notice  of  their  destruction  if  they  did  not  take  that 
way,  he  is  accused  as  a  blasphemer. 

Lastly,  We  are  here  told  how  God  owned  him 


when  he  was  brought  before  the  council,  and  made 
it  to  appear  that  he  stood  by  him  ;  (v.  15.)  All  that 
i  sat  in  the  council,  the  priests,  scribes,  and  elders, 
looking  stedfastly  on  him,  being  a  stranger,  and  one 
they  bad  not  yet  had  before  them,  they  saw  his  face  as 
:  fit  had  been  the  face  of  an  angel.  It  is  usual  forjudges 
to  observe  the  countenance  of  the  prisoner,  which 
i  sometimes  is  an  indication  either  of  guilt  or  inno¬ 
cence.  Now  Stephen  appeared  at  the  bar  with  the 
countenance  as  of  an  angel. 

1.  Perhaps  it  intimates  no  more  than  that  he  had 
an  extraordinarily  pleasant,  cheerful  countenance, 
and  there  was  not  in  it  the  least  sign  either  of  fear 
for  himself  or  anger  at  his  persecutors  ;  he  looked 
as  if  he  had  never  been  better  pleased  in  his  life 
than  he  was  now  when-  he  was  called  out  to  bear  his 
testimony  to  the  gospel  of  Christ  thus  publicly,  and 
stood  fair  for  the  crown  of  martyrdom.  Such  an 
undisturbed  serenity,  such  an  undaunted  courage, 
and  such  an  unaccountable  mixture  of  mildness  and 
majesty,  there  was  in  his  countenance,  that  every 
one  said,  he  looked  like  an  angel ;  enough  surely  to 
convince  the  Sadducees  that  there  are  angels,  when 
they  saw  before  their  eyes  an  incarnate  angel. 

2.  It  should  rather  seem  that  there  was  a  miracu¬ 
lous  splendour  and  brightness  upon  his  countenance, 
like  that  of  our  Saviour,  when  he  was  transfigured  ; 
or,  at  least,  that  of  Moses,  when  he  came  down 
from  the  mount ;  God  designing  thereby  to  put 
honour  upon  his  faithful  witness,  and  confusion  upon 
his  persecutors  and  judges,  whose  sin  would  be  high¬ 
ly  aggravated,  and  would  be  indeed  a  rebellion 
against  the  light,  if,  notwithstanding  this,  they  pro¬ 
ceeded  against  him.  Whether  he  himself  wist  that 
the  skin  of  his  face. shone  or  no,  we  are  not  told; 
but  all  that  sat  in  the  council  saw  it,  and,  probably, 
took  notice  of  it  to  one  another,  and  an  arrant  shame 
it  was,  that,  when  they  sawr,  and  could  not  but  see 
by  it  that  he  was  owned  of  God,  they  did  not  call 
him  from  standing  at  the  bar  to  sit  in  the  chief  seat 
upon  the  bench.  Wisdom  and  holiness  make  a 
man’s  face  to  shine,  and  yet  these  will  not  secure 
men  from  the  greatest  indignities  ;  and  no  wonder, 
when  the  shining  of  Stephen’s  face  would  not  be  his 
protection  ;  though  it  had  been  easy  to  prove  that  if 
he  had  been  guilty  of  putting  any  dishonour  upon 
Moses,  God  would  not  thus  have  put  Moses’s  honour 
upon  him 

CHAP.  VII. 

When  our  Lord  Jesus  called  his  apostles  out  >-o  be  employed 
in  services  and  sufferings  for  him,  he  told  them,  that  yet 
the  last  shall  be  first,  and  the  first  last ;  which  was  remark¬ 
ably  fulfilled  in  St.  Stephen  and  St.  Paul,  who  were  both 
of  them  late  converts,  in  comparison  of  the  apostles,  and 
yet  got  the  start  of  them,  both  in  services  and  sufferings  ; 
fur  God,  in  conferring  honours  and  favours,  often  crosses 
hands.  In  this  chapter,  we  have  the  martyrdom  of  Ste¬ 
phen,  the  first  martyr  of  the  Christian  church,  who  led  the 
van  in  that  noble  army.  And  therefore  his  sufferings  and 
death  are  more  largely  related  than  of  any  other,  for  direc¬ 
tion  and  encouragement  to  all  those  who  are  called  out  to 
resist  unto  blood,  as  he  did.  Here  is,  I.  His  defence  of 
himself  before  the  council,  in  answer  to  the  matters  and 
things  he  stood  charged  with,  the  scope  of  which  is  to  shew 
that  it  was  no  blasphemy  against  God,  nor  any  injury  at 
all  to  the  glory  of  his  name,  to  say,  that  the  temple  should 
be  destroyed,  and  the  customs  of  the  ceremonial  law 
changed.  And,  1.  He  shews  this  by  going  over  the  history  of 
the  Old  Testament,  and  observing,  that  God  never  intended 
to  confine  his  favours  to  that  place,  or  that  ceremonial  law  ; 
and  that  they  had  no  reason  to  expect  he  ^  lould for  the 
people  of  the  Jews  had  always  been  a  provoking  people, 
and  had  forfeited  the  privileges  of  their  peculiarity  :  nay, 
that  that  holy  place  and  that  law  were  but  figures  of  good 
things  to  come,  and  it  was  no  disparagement  at  all  to  them 
to  say  that  thev  must  give  place  to  belter  things,  v.  1  .  .  50. 
And  then,  2.  He  applies  this  to  them  that  prosecuted  him, 
and  sat  in  judgment  upon  him,  sharplv  reproving  them  for 
their  wickedness  by  which  they  had  brought  upon  them 
selves  the  ruin  of  their  place  and  nation,  and  then  could  not 


64 


THE  ACTS,  VII. 


bear  to  hear  of  it,  v.  51 . .  53.  II.  The  putting  of  him  to 
death  by  stoning  of  him,  and  his  pa  ient,  cheerful,  pious 
submission  to  it,  v.  54  . .  60. 

1 .  r  §  MJEN  said  the  High  Priest,  are  these 
JL  things  so  ?  2.  And  he  said,  Men, 
brethren,  and  fathers,  hearken ;  Tiie  God 
of  glory  appeared  unto  our  father  Abra¬ 
ham,  when  he  was  in  Mesopotamia,  before 
he  dwelt  in  Charran,  3.  And  said  unto 
him,  Get  thee  out  of  thy  country,  and  from 
thv  kindred,  and  come  into  the  land  which 
I  shall  shew  thee.  4.  Then  came  he  out 
of  the  land  of  the  Chaldeans,  and  dwelt  in 
Charran  :  and  from  thence,  when  his  father 
was  dead,  he  removed  him  into  this  land, 
wherein  ye  now  dwell.  5.  And  he  gave 
him  none  inheritance  in  it,  no  not  so  much 
as  to  set  his  foot  on  :  yet  he  promised  that 
he  would  give  it  to  him  for  a  possession, 
and  to  his  seed  after  him,  when  as  yet  he 
had  no  child.  6.  And  God  spake  on  this 
wise,  that  his  seed  should  sojourn  in  a 
strange  land ;  and  that  they  should  bring 
them  into  bondage,  and  entreat  thevi  evil 
four  hundred  years.  7.  And  the  nation  to 
whom  they  shall  be  in  bondage  will  I 
judge,  said  God  :  and  after  that  shall  they 
come  forth,  and  serve  me  in  this  place.  8. 
And  he  gave  him  the  covenant  of  circum¬ 
cision  :  and  so  Abraham  begat  Isaac,  and 
circumcised  him  the  eighth  day  ;  and  Isaac 
begat  Jacob;  and  Jacob  begat  the  twelve 
patriarchs.  9.  And  the  patriarchs,  moved 
with  envy,  sold  Joseph  into  Egypt :  but  God 
was  with  him,  10.  And  delivered  him  out 
of  all  his  afflictions,  and  gave  him  favour 
and  wisdom  in  the  sight  of  Pharaoh  king 
of  Egypt ;  and  he  made  him  governor  over 
Egypt  and  all  his  house.  11.  Now  there 
came  a  dearth  over  all  the  land  of  Egypt 
and  Canaan,  and  great  affliction  :  and  our 
fathers  found  no  sustenance.  1 2.  But  when 
Jacob  heard  that  there  was  corn  in  Egypt, 
he  sent  out  our  fathers  first.  1 3.  And  at  the 
second  time  Joseph  was  made  known  to 
his  brethren ;  and  Joseph’s  kindred  was 
made  known  unto  Pharoah.  1 4.  Then  sent 
Joseph,  and  called  his  father  Jacob  to  him, 
and  all  his  kindred,  threescore  and  fifteen 
souls.  I  5.  So  Jacob  went  down  into  Egypt, 
and  died,  he,  and  our  fathers,  1 6.  And  were 
carried  over  into  Sychem,  and  laid  in  the 
sepulchre  that  Abraham  bought  for  a  sum 
of  money  of  the  sons  of  Emmor  the  father 
of  Sychem. 

Stephen  is  now  qt  the  bar  before  the  great  council 
of  the  nation,  indicted  for  blasphemy  :  what  the 
witnesses  swore  against  him  we  had  an  account  of  in 
the  foregoing  chapter,  that  he  spake  blasphemous 
words  against  Moses  and  God  ;  for  he  spake  against 
this  holy  place  and  the  laiv.  Now,  here, 

T.  The  High  Priest  calls  upon  him  to  answer  for 


himself,  v.  1.  He  was  president,  and,  as  such,  the 
mouth  of  the  court,  and  therefore  he  saith,  “You, 
the  prisoner  at  the  bar,  you  hear  what  is  sworn 
against  you  ;  what  do  you  say  to  it  ?  Are  these  things 
so  ?  Have  you  ever  spoken  any  words  to  this  pur¬ 
port  ?  If  you  have,  will  you  recant  ^hem,  or  will  you 
stand  to  them  ?  Guilty  or  not  guilty  ?”  This  carried 
a  shew  of  fairness,  and  yet  seems  to  have  been  spo¬ 
ken  with  an  air  of  haughtiness;  and  thus  far  he  seems 
to  have  prejudged  the  cause,  that,  if  it  were  so,  that 
he  had  spoken  such  and  such  words,  he  shall  cer¬ 
tainly  be  adjudged  a  blasphemer,  whatever  he  may 
offer  in  justification  or  explanation  of  them. 

II.  He  begins  his  defence,  and  it  is  long  ;  but  it 
should  seem  by  his  breaking  off  abruptly,  just  when 
he  came  to  the  main  point,  (in  50. )  that  it  would 
have  been  much  longer,  if  his  enemies  would  have 
given  him  leave  to  say  all  he  had  to  say.  In  general 
we  may  observe, 

1.  That  in  this  discourse  he  appears  to  be  a  man 
ready  and  mighty  in  the  scriptures,  and  thereby 
thoroughly  furnished  for  every  good  word  and  work. 
He  can  relate  scripture-stories,  and  such  as  were 
very  pertinent  to  his  purpose,  off  hand,  without 
looking  in  his  Bible.  He  was  filled  ’with  the  Holy 
Ghost,  not  so  much  to  reveal  to  him  new  things,  or 
open  to  him  the  secret  counsels  and  decrees  of  God 
concerning  the  Jewish  nation,  with  them  to  convict 
these  gainsayers ;  no,  but  to  bring  to  his  remem¬ 
brance  the  scriptures  of  the  Old  Testament,  and  to 
teach  him  how  to  make  use  of  them  for  their  con¬ 
viction.  They  that  are  full  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  will 
be  full  of  the  scripture,  as  Stephen  was. 

2.  That  he  quotes  the  scriptures,  according  to  the 
Septuagint  translation,  by  which  it  appears  that  he 
was  one  of  the  Hellenist  Jews,  who  used  that  ver¬ 
sion  in  their  synagogues.  His  following  that,  occa¬ 
sions  divers  variations  from  the  Hebrew  original  in 
this  discourse,  which  the  judges  of  the  court  did  not 
correct,  because  they  knew  how  he  was  led  into 
them  ;  nor  is  it  any  derogation  to  the  authority  of 
that  Spirit  by  which  he  spake,  for  the  variations  are 
not  material.  We  have  a  maxim,  Apices  juris  non 
sunt  jura — Mere  points  of  law  are  not  law  itself. 

These  verses  carry  on  this  his  compendium  of 
church-history  to  the  end  of  the  book  of  Genesis. 
Observe, 

(1.)  His  preface;  Men,  brethren,  and  fathers, 
hearken.  He  gives  them,  though  not  flattering  titles, 
yet  civil  and  respectful  ones,  signifying  his  expectation 
of  fair  treatment  with  them  ;  from  men  he  hopes  to 
be  treated  with  humanity,  and  he  hopes  that  bre¬ 
thren  and  fathers  will  use  him  in  a  fatherly  brotherly 
way.  They  are  ready  to  look  upon  him  as  an  apos¬ 
tate  from  the  Jewish  church,  and  an  enemv  to  them. 
But  to  make  way  for  their  conviction  .to  the  contra¬ 
ry,  he  addresses  himself  to  them  as  men,  brethren, 
and  fathers  ;  resolving  to  look  on  himself  as  one  of 
them,  though  they  would  not  so  look  on  him.  He 
craves  their  attention;  Hearken;  though  he  was 
about  to  tell  them  what  they  already  knew,  yet  he 
begs  them  to  hearken  to  it,  because,  though  they 
knew  it  all,  yet  they  would  not  without  a  very  close 
application  of  mind  know  how  to  apply  it  to  the  case 
before  them. 

(2.)  His  entrance  upon  the  discourse  ;  which  (how¬ 
ever  it  may  seem  to  those  that  read  it  carelessly)  is 
far  from  being  a  long  ramble  only  to  amuse  the 
hearers,  and  give  them  a  diversion  by  telling  them 
an  old  story.  No  ;  it  is  all  pertinent  and  ad  retn — 
to  the  purpose,  to  shew  them  that  God  had  not  his 
heart  so  much  upon  that  holy  place  and  the  law  as 
they  had  ;  but,  as  he  had  a  church  in  the  world 
many  ages  before  that  holy  place  was  founded,  and 
the  ceremonial  law  given,  so  he  would  have,  when 
thev  should  both  have  had  their  period. 

[1.]  He  begins  with  the  call  ct  Abraham  out  of 


65 


THE  AC 

Ur  of  the  Chaldees ,  by  which  he  was  set  apart  for 
God  to  be  the  trustee  of  the  promise,  and  the  father 
of  the  Old  Testament  church.  This  we  had  an  ac¬ 
count  of,  (Gen.  12. 1,  &c. )  and  it  is  referred  to,  Neh. 

9.  7,  8.  His  native  country  was  an  idolatrous  coun¬ 
try,  it  was  Mesopotamia,  ( v .  2.)  the  land  of  the 
Chaldeans  ;  (v.  4. )  thence  God  brought  him  at  two 
removes,  not  too  far  at  once,  dealing  tenderly  with 
him  ;  he  first  brought  him  out  of  the' land  of  the 
Chaldeans  to  Charran,  or  Haran,  a  place  midway 
between  that  and  Canaan,  (Gen.  11.  31.)  and  from 
•thence,  five  years  after,  when  his  father  was  dead, 
he  removed  him  into  the  land  of  Canaan ,  ’wherein  ye 
now  dwell.  It  should  seem,  the  first  time  that  God 
spake  to  Abraham,  he  appeared  in  some  visible  dis¬ 
play  of  the  divine  presence,  as  the  God  of  glory, 
(r;."3. )  to  settle  a  correspondence  with  him:  and 
then  afterward  he  kept  up  that  correspondence,  and 
spake  to  him  from  time  to  time  as  there  was  occa¬ 
sion,  without  repeating  his  visible  appearances  as 
the  God  of  glory. 

From  this  call  of  Abraham  we  may  observe,  First, 
That  in  all  our  ways  we  must  acknowledge  God,  and 
attend  the  conduct  of  his  providence,  as  of  the  pillar 
of  cloud  and  fire.  It  is  not  said,  Abraham  removed, 
but,  God  removed  him  into  this  land  wherein  ye  now 
dwell,  and  he  did  but  follow  his  Leader.  Secondly, 
Those  whom  God  takes  into  covenant  with  himself, 
he  distinguishes  from  the  children  of  this  world  ; 
they  are  effectually  called  out  of  the  state,  out  of 
the  land,  of  their  nativity  ;  they  must  sit  loose  to 
the  world,  and  live  above  it,  and  every  thing  in  it, 
even  that  in  it  which  is  most  dear  to  them,  and  must 
trust  God  to  make  it  up  to  them  in  another  and  bet¬ 
ter  country,  that  is  the  heavenly,  which  he  will 
shew  them.  God’s  chosen  must  follow  him  with  an 
implicit  faith  and  obedience. 

But  let  us  see  what  this  is  to  Stephen’s  case. 

1.  They  had  charged  him  as  a  blasphemer  of 
God,  and  an  apostate  from  the  church  ;  therefore 
he  shews  that  he  is  a  son  of  Abraham,  and  values 
himself  upon  his  being  able  to  say,  Our  father  Abra¬ 
ham,  and  that  he  is  a  faithful  worshipper  of  the  God 
of  Abraham,  whom  therefore  he  here  calls  the  God 
of  glory.  He  also  shews  that  he  owns  divine  revela¬ 
tion,  and  that  particularly  by  which  the  Jewish 
church  was  founded  and  incorporated. 

2.  They  were  proud  of  their  being  circumcised  ; 
and  therefore  he  shews  that  Abraham  was  taken 
under  God’s  conduct,  and  into  communion  with  him, 
before  he  was  circumcised,  for  that  was  not  till  v.  8. 
With  this  argument  Paul  pro\^fe  that  Abraham  was 
justified  by  faith,  because  he  was  justified  when  he 
was  in  uncircumcision  :  and  so  here, 

3.  They  had  a  mighty  jealousy  for  this  holy  place : 
which  may  be  meant  of  the  whole  land  of  Canaan  ; 
for  it  was  called  the  holy  land,  Immanuel's  land; 
and  the  destruction  of  the  holy  house,  inferred  that 
of  the  holy  land.  “Now,”  says  Stephen,  “you 
need  not  be  so  proud  of  it;  for,”  (1.)  “You  came 
originally  out  of  Ur  of  the  Chaldees,  where  your  fa¬ 
thers  served  other  gods,  (Josh.  24.  2.)  and  you  were 
not  the  first  planters  of  this  country.  Look  therefore 
unto  he  rock  whence  ye  were  hewn,  and  the  hole  of 
the  pit  out  of  which  ye  were  digged;  (that  is,  as  it 
follows  there ;)  “look  unto  Abraham  your  father, 
for  I  called  him  alone ;  (Isa.  51.  1,  2.)  think  of  the 
meanness  of  your  beginnings,  and  how  you  are  en¬ 
tirely  indebted  to  divine  grace,  and  then  you  will  see 
boasting  to  be  for  ever  excluded.  It  was  God  that 
raised  up  the  righteous  man  from  the  east,  and  called 
him  to  his  foot,  Isa.  41.  2.  But  if  his  seed  degenerate, 
let  them  know,  God  can  destroy  this  holy  place,  and 
raise  up  to  himself  another  people,  for  he  is  not  a 
Debtor  to  them.”  (2.)  God  appeared  in  his  glory  to 
Abraham  a  great  way  off  in  Mesopotamia,  before 
he  came  near  Canaan,  nav,  before  he  dwelt  in  Char- 

VOL.  VI. — I 


TS,  VII. 

ran  ;  so  that  you  must  not  think  God’s  visits  are  to 
this  land :  no ;  he  that  brought  the  seed  of  the 
church  from  a  country  so  far  east,  can,  if  he  pleases, 
carry  the  fruit  of  it  to  another  country  as  far  west.” 
(3. )  “  God  made  no  haste  to  bring  him  into  this  land, 
but  let  him  linger  some  years  by  the  way  :  which 
shews  that  God  has  not  his  heart  so  much'upon  this 
land  as  you  have,  neither  is  his  honour,  nor  the  hap¬ 
piness  of  his  people,  bound  up  in  it.  It  is  therefore 
neither  blasphemy  nor  treason  to  say,  It  shall  be  de¬ 
stroyed.  ” 

[2.]  The  unsettled  state  of  Abraham  and  his  seed 
for  many  ages  after  he  was  called  out  of  Ur  of  the 
Chaldees.  God  did  indeed  promise  that  he  would 
give  it  to  him  for  a  possession,  and  to  his  seed  after 
him,  v.  5.  But,  First,  As  yet  he  had  no  child,  nor 
any  by  Sarah  for  many  years  after.  Secondly,  He 
himself  was  but  a  stranger  and  a  sojourner  in  that 
land,  and  God  gave  him  no  inheritance  in  it,  no  not 
so  much  as  to  set  his  foot  on  ;  but  there  he  was  as  in 
a  strange  country,  where  he  was  always  upon  the 
remove,  and  could  call  nothing  his  own.  Thirdly, 
His  posterity  did  not  come  to  the  possession  of  it  of 
a  long  time  ;  After  four  hundred  years  they  shall 
come  and  serve  me  in  this  place,  and  not  till  then, 
v.  7.  Nay,  Fourthly,  They  must  undergo  a  great 
deal  of  hardship  and  difficulty  before  they  shall  be 
put  into  the  possession  of  that  land  ;  they  shall  be 
brought  into  bondage,  and  ill  treated  in  a  strange 
land:  and  this,  not  as  the  punishment  of  any  par¬ 
ticular  sin,  as  their  wandering  in  the  wilderness  was, 
for  we  never  find  any  such  account  given  of  their 
bondage  in  Egypt ;  but  so  God  had  appointed,  and 
it  must  be.  And  at  the  end  of  four  hundred  years, 
reckoning  from  the  birth  of  Isaac,  that  nation  to 
whom  they  shall  be  in  bondage,  will  I  judge,  said 
God.  Now  this  teaches  us,  1.  That  known  unto 
God  are  all  his  works  beforehand.  When  Abraham 
had  neither  inheritance  nor  heir,  yet  he  was  told  he 
should  have  both,  the  one  a  land  of  promise,  and 
the  other  a  child  o  f  promise ;  and  therefore  both 
had,  and  received,  by  faith.  2.  That  God’s  pro¬ 
mises,  though  they  are  slow,  are  sure,  in  the  opera¬ 
tion  of  them  ;  they  will  be  fulfilled  in  the  season  of 
them,  though  perhaps  not  so  soon  as  we  expect. 
3.  That  though  the  people  of  God  may  be  in  distress 
and  trouble  for  a  time,  yet  God  will  at  length  both 
rescue  them,  and  reckon  with  those  that  do  oppress 
them  :  for,  verily  there  is  a  God  that  judgeth  in  the 
earth. 

But  let  us  see  how  this  serves  Stephen’s  purpose. 

(1.)  The  Jewish  nation,  which  they  wrere  so  jea¬ 
lous  for  the  honour  of,  was  very  inconsiderable  in  its 
beginnings  ;  as  their  common  father  Abraham  was 
fetched  out  of  obscurity  in  Ur  of  the  Chaldees,  so 
their  tribes,  and  the  heads  of  them,  were  fetched  out 
of  servitude  in  Egypt,  when  they  were  the  fewest  of 
all  people,  Deut.  7.  7.  And  what  need  is  there  of 
so  much  ado,  as  if  their  ruin,  when  they  bring  it 
upon  themselves  by  sin,  must  be  the  ruin  of  the 
world,  and  of  all  God’s  interest  in  it  ?  No;  he  that 
brought  them  out  of  Egypt,  can  bring  them  into  it 
again,  as  he  threatened,  (Deut.  28.  68.)  and  yet  be 
no  loser,  while  he  can  out  of  stones  raise  up  children 
unto  Abraham. 

(2.)  The  slow  steps  by  which  th<  promise  made 
to  Abraham  advanced  toward  the  performance,  and 
the  many  seeming  contradictions  here  taken  notice 
of,  plainly  shew  that  it  had  a  spiritual  meaning,  and 
that  the  land  principally  intended  to  be  conveyed 
and  secured  by  it,  was,  the  better  country,  that  is, 
the  heavenly  :  as  the  apostle  shews  from  this  very 
argument,  that  the  patriarchs  sojourned  in  the  land 
o  f  promise,  as  in  a  strange  country  ;  thence  infer¬ 
ring,  that  they  looked  for  a  city  that  had  founda¬ 
tions,  Heb.  11.  9,  10.  It  was  therefore  no  blas¬ 
phemy  to  say,  Jesus  shall  destroy  this  place ,  when 


G6  THE  ACTS,  VII. 


at  the  same  time  we  say,  “  He  shall  lead  us  to  the 
heavenly  Canaan,  and  put  us  in  possession  of  that, 
of  which  the  earthly  Canaan  was  but  a  type  and 
figure.” 

[3.]  The  building  up  of  the  family  of  Abraham, 
with  the  entail  of  divine  grace  upon  it,  and  the  dis¬ 
posals  of  Divine  Providence  concerning  it,  which  take 
up  the  book  of  Genesis. 

First,  God  engaged  to  be  a  God  to  Abraham  and 
to  his  seed  ;  and,  in  token  of  that,  appointed  that  he 
and  his  male  seed  should  be  circumcised,  Gen.  17. 

9,  10.  He  gave  him  the  covenant  of  circumcision, 
that  covenant  which  circumcision  was  the  seal  of  ; 
and  accordingly,  when  Abraham  had  a  son  born,  he 
circumcised  him  the  eighth  day,  (v.  8.)  by  which  he 
was  both  obliged  by  the  divine  law,  and  interested 
in  the  divine  promise  ;  for  circumcision  had  refer¬ 
ence  to  both,  being  a  seal  of  the  covenant  both  on 
God’s  pai-t,  I  wili  be  to  thee  a  God  all-sufficient, 
and  on  man’s  part,  Walk  before  me,  and  be  thou 
perfect.  And  then  when  effectual  care  was  thus 
taken  for  the  securing  of  Abraham’s  seed,  to  be  a 
seed  to  serve  the  Lord,  they  began  to  multiply ;  Isaac 
begat  Jacob,  and  Jacob  the  twelve  patriarchs,  or 
roots  of  the  respective  tribes. 

Secondly,  Joseph,  the  darling  and  blessing  of  his 
father’s  house,  was  abused  by  his  brethren,  they 
envied  him  because  of  his  dreams  and  sold  him  into 
Egypt ;  thus  early  did  the  children  of  Israel  begin 
to  grudge  those  among  them  that  were  eminent  and 
outshone  others  ;  of  which  their  enmity  to  Christ, 
who,  like  Joseph,  was  a  JYazarite  among  his  bre¬ 
thren,  was  a  great  instance. 

Thirdly,  God  owned  Joseph  in  his  troubles,  and 
was  with  him,  (Gen.  39.  2,  21.)  by  the  influence  of 
his  Spirit,  both  on  his  mind,  giving  him  comfort, 
and  on  the  minds  of  those  he  was  concerned  with, 
giving  him  favour  in  their  eyes.  And  thus  at  length 
he  delivered  him  out  of  his  afflictions,  and  Pharaoh 
made  him  the  second  man  in  the  kingdom,  Ps.  105. 
20 — 22.  And  thus  he  not  only  arrived  at  great  pre¬ 
ferment  among  the  Egyptians,  but  became  the  shep¬ 
herd  and  stone  of  Israel,  Gen.  49.  24. 

Fourthly,  Jacob  was  compelled  to  go  down  into 
Egypt,  by  a  famine  which  forced  him  out  of  Canaan, 
a  dearth,  (which  was  a  great  affliction, )  to  that  de¬ 
gree,  that  our  fathers  found  no  sustenance,  in  Ca¬ 
naan,  v.  11.  That  fruitful  land  was  turned  into 
barrenness.  But,  hearing  that  there  was  com  in 
Egypt,  (treasured  up  by  the  wisdom  of  his  own  son,) 
he  sent  out  our  fathers  first  to  fetch  corn,  v.  12. 
And  the  second  time  that  they  went,  Joseph,  who  at 
first  made  himself  strange  to  them,  made  himself 
known  to  them  ;  and  it  was  notified  to  Pharaoh  that 
they  were  Joseph’s  kindred  and  had  a  dependence 
upon  him  ;  (v.  13.)  whereupon,  with  Pharaoh’s 
leave,  Joseph  sent  for  his  father  Jacob  to  him  into 
Egypt,  with  all  his  kindred  and  family,  to  the  num¬ 
ber  of  seventy-five  souls,  to  be  subsisted  there,  v. 
14.  In  Genesis  they  are  said, to  be  seventy  souls, 
Gen.  46.  27.  But  the  Septuagint  there  make  them 
seventy -five,  and  Stephen  or  Luke  follows  that  ver¬ 
sion,  as  Luke  3.  36.  where  Cainan  is  inserted,  that 
is  not  in  the  Hebrew  text,  but  in  the  Septuagint. 
Some,  by  excluding  Joseph  and  his  sons,  who  were 
in  Egypt  before,  which  reduces  the  number  to  sixty- 
four,  and  adding  the  sons  of  the  eleven  patriarchs, 
make  the  number  seventy-five. 

Fifthly,  Jacob  and  his  sons  died  in  Egypt,  (y.  16.) 
but  were  carried  over  to  be  buried  in  Canaan,  v.  17. 
A  very  considerable  difficulty  occurs  here  :  it  is 
said,  They  were  carried  over  into  Sychem,  whereas 
Jacob  was  buried  not  in  Sychem,  but  near  Hebron, 
in  the  cave  of  Machpelah,  where  Abraham  and 
Isaac  were  buried,  Gen.  50.  13.  Joseph’s  bones  in¬ 
deed  were  buried  in  Sychem  ;  (Josh.  24.  32. )  and  it 
seems  by  this,  (though  it  is  not  mentioned  in  the 


story,)  that  the  bones  of  all  the  other  patriarchs 
were  can-ied  with  his,  each  of  them  giving  the  same 
commandment  concerning  them  that  he  had  done  ; 
and  of  them  this  must  be  understood,  not  of  Jacob 
himself.  But  then  the  sepulchre  in  Sychem  was 
bought  by  Jacob,  (Gen.  33.  19. )  and  by  that  it  is 
described,  Josh.  24.  32.  How  then  is  it  here  said  to 
be  bought  by  Abraham  ?  Dr.  Whitby’s  solution  of 
this  is  very  sufficient.  He  supplies  it  thus  ;  Jacob 
went  down  into  Egypt  and  died,  he  and  our  fathers  ; 
and  ( our  fathers )  were  carried  over  into  Sychem  ; 
and  he,  that  is,  Jacob,  was  laid  in  the  sepulchre  that 
Abraham  bought  for  a  sum  of  money,  Gen.  23. 
(Or,  they  were  laid  there,  that  is,  Abraham,  Isaac, 
and  Jacob.)  And  they,  namely,  the  other  patriarchs, 
were  buried  in  the  sepulchre  bought  of  the  sons  of 
Emmor,  the  father  of  Sychetn. 

Let  us  now  see  what  this  is  to  Stephen’s  purpose. 

1.  He  still  reminds  them  of  the  mean  beginning 
of  the  Jewish  nation,  as  a  check  to  their  priding 
themselves  in  the  glories  of  that  nation  ;  and  that  it 
was  by  a  miracle  of  mercy,  that  they  were  raised 
up  out  of  nothing  to  what  they  were,  from  so  small 
a  number  to  be  so  great  a  nation ;  but  if  they  answer 
not  the  intention  of  their  being  so  raised,  they  can 
expect  no  other  than  to  be  destroyed.  The  prophets 
frequently  put  them  in  mind  of  the  bringing  of  them 
out  of  Egypt,  as  an  aggravation  of  their  contempt 
of  the  law  of  God  ;  and  here  it  is  urged  upon  them 
as  an  aggravation  of  their  contempt  of  the  gospel  of 
Christ. 

2.  He  reminds  them  likewise  of  the  wickedness  of 
those  that  were  the  patriarchs  of  their  tribes,  in  en¬ 
vying  their  brother  Joseph,  and  selling  him  into 
Egypt ;  and  the  same  spirit  was  still  working  in  them 
toward  Christ  and  his  ministers. 

3.  Their  holy  land,  which  they  doted  so  much 
upon,  their  fathers  were  long  kept  out  of  the  pos¬ 
session  of,  and  met  with  dearth  and  great  affliction 
in  it  ;  and  therefore  let  them  not  think  it  strange,  if, 
after  it  has  been  so  long  polluted  with  sin,  it  be  at 
length  destroyed. 

4.  The  faith  of  the  patriarchs  in  desiring  to  be 
buried  in  the  land  of  Canaan,  plainly  shewed  that 
they  had  an  eye  to  the  heavenly  country,  which  it 
was  the  design  of  this  Jesus  to  lead  them  to. 

17.  But  when  the  time  of  the  promise 
drew  nigh,  which  God  had  sworn  to  Abra¬ 
ham,  the  people  grew  and  multiplied  in 
Egypt,  1 8.  Till  another  king  arose,  which 
knew  not  Joseph.  19.  The  same  dealt 
subtly  with  our  kindred,  and  evil  entreated 
our  fathers,  so  that  they  cast  out  their 
young  children,  to  the  end  they  might  not 
live.  20.  In  which  time  Moses  was  born, 
and  was  exceeding  fair,  and  nourished  up 
in  his  father’s  house  three  months  :  21 .  And 
when  he  was  cast  out,  Pharaoh’s  daughter 
took  him  up,  and  nourished  him  for  her  own 
son.  22.  And  Moses  was  learned  in  all 
the  wisdom  of  the  Egyptians,  and  was 
mighty  in  words  and  in  deeds.  23.  And 
when  he  was  full  forty  years  old,  it  came 
into  his  heart  to  visit  his  brethren  the  chil¬ 
dren  of  Israel.  24.  And  seeing  one  of  them 
suffer  wrong, he  defended  /m»,  and  avenged 
him  that  was  oppressed,  and  smote  the 
Egyptian  :  25.  For  he  supposed  his  breth¬ 

ren  would  have  understood  how  that  God 


67 


THE  ACTS,  VJ1. 


by  his  hand  would  deliver  them :  but  they 
understood  not.  26.  And  the  next  day  he 
shewed  himself  unto  them  as  they  strove, 
and  would  have  set  them  at  one  again, 
saying,  Sirs,  ye-are  brethren ;  why  do  ye 
wrong  one  to  another  ?  27.  But  he  that 

did  his  neighbour  wrong  thrust  him  away, 
saying,  Who  made  thee  a  ruler  and  a  judge 
over  us?  28.  Wilt  thou  kill  me,  as  thou 
didst  the  Egyptian  yesterday  ?  29.  Then 

fled  Moses  at  this  saying,  and  was  a  stran¬ 
ger  in  the  land  of  lVIidian,  where  he  begat 
two  sons. 

Stephen  here  goes  on  to  relate, 

I.  The  wonderful  increase  of  the  people  of  Israel 
m  Egypt ;  it  was  by  a  wonder  of  providence,  that 
in  a  little  time  they  advanced  from  a  family  into  a 
nation. 

1.  It  was  when  the  time  of  the  firomise  drew  nigh  ; 
the  time  when  they  were  to  be  formed  into  a  people. 
During  the  first  two  hundred  and  fifteen  years  after 
the  firomise  made  to  Abraham ,  the  children  of  the 
covenant  were  increased  but  to  seventy  ;  but  in  the 
latter  two  hundred  and  fifteen  years  they  increased 
to  six  hundred  thousand  fighting  men  ;  the  motion 
of  providence  is  sometimes  quickest,  when  it  comes 
nearest  the  centre.  Let  us  not  be  discouraged  at  the 
slowness  of  the  proceedings  toward  the  accomplish¬ 
ment  of  God’s  promises  ;  God  knows  how  to  redeem 
the  time  that  seems  to  have  been  lost,  and,  when  the 
year  of  the  redeemed  is  at  hand,  can  do  double  .work 
in  a  single  day. 

2.  It  was  in  Egyfit,  where  they  were  oppressed, 
and  ruled  with  rigour  ;  when  their  Ih'es  were  made 
so  bitter  to  them,  that,  one  would  think,  they  should 
have  wished  to  be  written  childless,  yet  they  mar¬ 
ried,  in  faith  that  God  in  due  time  would  visit  them  ; 
and  God  blessed  them,  who  thus  honoured  him,  say¬ 
ing,  Be  fruitful,  and  multiply.  Suffering  times  have 
often  been  growing  times  with  the  church. 

II.  The  extreme  hardships  which  they  underwent 
there,  v.  18,  19.  When  the  Egyptians  observed 
them  to  increase  in  number,  they  increased  their 
burthens  ;  in  which  Stephen  observes  three  things : 

1.  Their  base  ingratitude.  They  were  oppressed 
by  another  king  that  knew  not  Joseph,  that  is,  did 
not  consider  the  good  service  that  Joseph  had  done 
to  that  nation  ;  for,  if  he  had,  he  would  not  have 
made  so  ill  a  requital  to  his  relations  and  family. 
Those  that  injure  good  people  are  very  ungrateful, 
for  they  are  the  blessings  of  the  age  and  place  they 
live  in. 

2.  Their  hellish  craft  and  policy.  They  dealt 
subtly  with  our  kindred.  Come  on,  said  they,  let 
us  deal  wisely,  thinking  thereby  to  secure  them¬ 
selves,  but  it  proved  dealing  foolishly,  for  they  did 
but  treasure  up  wrath  by  it.  Those  are  in  a  great 
mistake,  who  think  they  deal subtily  for  themselves, 
when  they  deal  deceitfully  or  unmercifully  with 
their  brethren. 

3.  Their  barbarous  and  inhuman  cruelty.  That 
they  might  effectually  extirpate  them,  they  cast  out 
their  young  children,  to  the  end  they  might  not  live. 
The  killing  of  their  inf  ant-seed  seemed  a  very  likely 
wav  to  crush  an  infant-nation. 

Now  Stephen  seems  to  observe  this  tc  them,  not 
only  that  they  might  further  see  how  mean  their 
beginnings  were,  fitly  represented  (perhaps  with  an 
eye  to  the  exposing  of  the  young  children  in  Egypt ) 
by  the  forlorn  state  of  a  helpless,  out-cast  infant, 
(Ezek.  15.  4.)  and  how  much  they  were  indebted  to 
God  for  his  care  of  them,  which  they  had  forfeited, 
and  made  themselves  unworthy  of-  but  also  that 


they  might  consider  that  what  they  were  now  doing 
against  the  Christian  church  in  its  infancy,  was  as 
impious  and  unjust,  and  would  be  in  the  issue  as 
fruitless  and  ineffectual,  as  that  was  which  the 
Egyptians  did  against  the  Jewish  church  in  its  in¬ 
fancy.  “  You  think  you  deal  subtly  in  your  evil 
entreating  us,  and  in  persecuting  young  converts, 
you  do  as  they  did  in  castingout  the  young  children  ; 
but  you  will  find  it  is  to  no  purpose,  in  spite  of  your 
malice,  Christ’s  disciples  will  increase  and  multiply. 

III.  The  raising  up  of  Moses  to  be  their  deliverer. 
Stephen  was  charged  with  having  spoken  blasphe 
mous  words  against  Moses,  in  answer  to  which 
charge,  he  here  speaks  very  honourably  of  him. 

1.  'Moses  was  born  when  the  persecution  of  Israel 
was  at  the  hottest,  especially  in  that  most  cruel  in¬ 
stance  of  it,  the  murdering  of  the  new-born  children  ; 
At  that  time,  Moses  was  born,  (v.  20.  )  and  was  him¬ 
self  in  danger,  as  soon  as  he  came  into  the  world, 
(as  our  Saviour  also  was  at  Bethlehem,)  of  falling  a 
sacrifice  to  that  bloody  edict.  God  is  preparing  for 
his  people’s  deliverance,  then  when  their  day  is 
darkest,  and  their  distress  deepest. 

2.  He  was  exceeding  fair  ;  his  face  began  to  shine 
as  soon  as  he  was  born,  as  a  happy  presage  of  the 
honour  God  designed  to  put  upon  him  ;  he  was,  <2r»<oc 
-r?  ©«? — fair  toward  God ;  he  was  sanctified  from 
the  womb,  and  that  made  him  beautiful  in  God’s 
eyes  ;  for  it  is  the  beauty  of  holiness  that  is  in  God’s 
sight  of  great  price. 

"3.  Be  was  wonderfully  preserved  in  his  infancy, 
first,  by  the  care  of  his  tender  parents,  who  nourish¬ 
ed  him  three  months  in  their  own  house,  as  long  as 
they  durst  ;  and  then  by  a  favourable  providence 
that  threw  him  into  the  arms  of  Pharaoh’s  daugh¬ 
ter,  who  took  him  up,  and  nourished  him  for  her  own 
son  ;  (v.  21.)  for  those  whom  God  designs  to  make 
special  use  of,  he  will  take  special  care  of.  And  did 
he  thus  protect  the.  child  Moses  ?  Much  more  will  he 
secure  the  interests  of  his  holy  child  Jesus  (as  he  is 
called,  ch.  4.  27.)  from  the  enemies  that  are  gathered 
together  against  him. 

4.  He  became  a  great  scholar;  ( v .  22.)  He  was 
learned  in  all  the  wisdom  of  the  Egyptians,  who  were 
then  famed  for  all  manner  of  polite  literature,  par¬ 
ticularly  philosophy,  astronomy,  and  (which  perhaps 
helped  to  lead  them  to  idolatry)  hieroglyphics. 
Moses,  having  his  education  at  court,  had  opportu¬ 
nity  of  improving  himself  by  the  btest  books,  tutors, 
and  conversation,  in  all  the  arts  and  sciences,  and 
had  a  genius  for  them.  Only  we  have  reason  to 
think,  that  he  had  not  so  far'forgotten  the  God  of 
his  fathers,  as  to  acquaint  himself  with  the  unlawful 
studies  and  practices  of  the  magicians  of  Egypt, 
any  further  than  was  necessary  to  the  confuting  of 
them. 

5.  He  became  a  prime  minister  of  state  in  Egypt ; 
that  seems  to  be  meant  by  his  being  mighty  in  words 
and  deeds.  Though  he  had  not  a  ready  way  of  ex¬ 
pressing  himself,  but  stammered,  yet  he  spake  ad¬ 
mirable  good  sense,  and  every-  thing  he  said  com¬ 
manded  assent,  and  carried  its  own  evidence  and 
force  of  reason  along  with  it.  And  in  business, 
none  went  on  with  such  courage,  and  conduct,  and 
success.  Thus  was  he  prepared,  by  human  helps, 
for  those  services,  which,  after  all,  lie  could  not  be 
thoroughly  furnished  for  without  divine  illumina¬ 
tion.  Now,’  by  all  this,  Stephen  will  make  it  ap¬ 
pear  that  notwithstanding  the  malicious  insinuations 
of  his  persecutors,  he  had  as  high  and  honourable 
thoughts  of  Moses  as  they  had. 

IV.  The  attempts  which  Moses  made  to  deliver 
Israel,  which  thev  spurned,  and  would  not  close  in 
with.  This  Stephen  insists  much  upon,  and  it  serves 
for  a  key  to  this  story,  (Exod.  2.  11 — 15.)  as  does 
also  that  other  construction  which  is  put  upon  it  by 
the  apostle,  Heb.  11.  24—26.  There  it  is  repre- 


68 


THE  ACTS,  VII. 


sented  as  an  act  of  holy  self-denial,  here  as  a  de¬ 
signed  preludium  to,  or  entrance  upon,  the  public 
service  he  was  to  be  called  out  to ;  (y.  23.)  When  he 
•was  full  forty  years  old,  in  the  prime  of  his  time  for 
preferment  in  the  court  of  Egypt,  it  came  into  his 
heart  (for  God  put  it  there)  to  visit  his  brethren  the 
children  of  Israel,  and  to  see  which  way  he  might 
do  them  any  service  ;  and  he  shewed  himself  as  a 
public  person,  with  a  public  character  : 

1.  As  Israel’s  saviour.  This  he  gave  a  specimen 
of  in  avenging  an  o/i/iressed  Israelite,  and  killing 
the  Egyfitian  that  abused  him  ;  (v.  24.)  Seeing  one 
of  his  brethren  suffer  wrong,  he  was  moved  with 
compassion  toward  the  sufferer,  and  a  just  indigna¬ 
tion  at  the  wrong-doer,  as  men  in  public  stations 
should  be,  and  he  avenged  him  that  was  ofi/iressecl, 
and  smote  the  Egyfitian ;  which,  if  he  had  been 
only  a  private  person,  he  could  not  lawfully  have 
done  ;  but  he  knew  that  his  commission  from  hea¬ 
ven  would  bear  him  out ;  and  he  sufifiosed  that  his 
brethren  (who  could  not  but  have  some  knowledge 
of  the  promise  made  to  Abraham,  that  the  nation 
that  should  oppress  them  God  would  judge )  would 
have  understood  that  God  by  his  hand  would  deli¬ 
ver  them  ;  for  he  could  not  have  had,  either  pre¬ 
sence  of  mind  or  strength  of  body,  to  do  what  he 
did,  if  he  had  not  been  clothed  with  such  a  divine 
power  as  evidenced  a  divine  authority.  If  they  had 
but  understood  the  signs  of  the  times,  they  might 
have  taken  this  for  the  dawning  of  the  day  of  their 
deliverance  ;  but  they  understood  not,  they  did  not 
take  this,  as  it  was  designed,  for  the  setting  up  of  a 
standard,  and  sounding  of  a  trumpet,  to  proclaim 
Moses  their  deliverer. 

2.  As  Israel’s  judge.  This  he  gave  a  specimen 
of,  the  very  next  day,  in  offering  to  accommodate 
matters  between  two  contending  Hebrews,  wherein 
he  plainly  assumed  a  public  character ;  (y.  26. )  He 
shewed  himself  to  them  as  they  strove,  and,  putting 
on  an  air  of  majesty  and  authority,  he  would  have 
set  them  at  one  again,  and  as  their  prince  have  de¬ 
termined  the  controversy  between  them,  saying, 
Sirs,  ye  are  brethren,  by  birth  and  profession  of  re¬ 
ligion  ;  why  do  ye  wrong  one  to  another?  For  he 
observed  that  (as  in  most  strifes)  there  was  a  fault 
on  both  sides  ;  and  therefore,  in  order  to  peace  and 
friendship,  there  must  be  a  mutual  remission  and 
condescension.  When  Moses  was  to  be  Israels  de¬ 
liverer  out  of  Egypt,  he  slew  the  Egyptians,  and  so 
delivered  Israel  out  of  their  hands;  but  when  he 
was  to  be  Israel’s  judge,  and  lawgiver,  he  ruled 
them  with  the  golden  sceptre,  not  the  iron  rod  ;  he 
did  not  kill  and  slay  them  when  they  strove,  but 
gave  them  excellent  laws  and  statutes,  and  deter¬ 
mined  upon  their  complaints  and  appeals  made  to 
him,  Exod.  18.  16. 

But  the  contending  Israelite,  that  was  most  in  the 
wrong,  thrust  him  away,  ( v .  27.)  would  not  bear 
the  reproof,  though  a  just  and  gentle  one,  but  was 
ready  to  fly  in  his  face,  with,  Who  made  thee  a  ruler 
and  a  judge  over  us?  Proud  and  litigious  spirits  are 
impatient  of  check  and  control.  Rather  would  these 
Israelites  have  their  bodies  ruled  with  rigour  by  their 
task-masters  than  be  delivered,  and  have  their  minds 
ruled  with  reason,  by  their  deliverer.  The  wrong¬ 
doer  was  so  enraged  at  the  reproof  given  him,  that 
he  upbraided  Moses  with  the  service  he  had  done 
to  their  nation  in  killing  the  Egyptian,  which,  if 
they  had  pleased,  would  have  been  the  earnest  of 
further  and  greater  service  ;  Wilt  thou  kill  me  as  \ 
thou  didst  the  Egyptian  yesterday?  v.  28.  Charging 
that  upon  him  as  his  crime,  and  threatening  to  ac¬ 
cuse  him  for  it,  w'hich  was  the  hanging  out  of  the 
flag  of  defiance  to  the  Egyptians,  and  the  banner  of 
love  and  deliverance  to  Israel.  Hereupon  Mosaf 
fled  into  the  land  of  Midian,  and  made  no  more  at¬ 
tempt  to  delivet  Israel  till  forty  years  after ;  he  set¬ 


tled  as  a  stranger  in  Midian,  married,  and  had  twe 
sons,  by  Jethro’s  daughter,  v.  29. 

Now  let  us  see  how  this  serves  Stephen’s  pur¬ 
pose, 

(1.)  They  charged  him  with  blaspheming  Moses, 
in  answer  to  which  lr:  retorts  upon  them  the  indig¬ 
nities  which  their  fathers  did  to  Moses,  which  they 
ought  to  be  ashamed  of,  and  humbled  for,  instead 
of  picking  quarrels  thus,  under  pretence  of  zeal  for 
the  honour  of  Moses,  with  one  that  had  as  great  a 
veneration  for  him  as  any  of  them  had. 

(2.)  They  persecuted  him  for  disputing  in  defence 
of  Christ,  and  his  gospel,  in  opposition  to  which  they 
set  up  Moses  and  his  law  ;  “But”  (saith  he)  “you 
had  best  take  heed,”  [1.]  “Lest  you  hereby  do  as 
your  fathers  did,  refuse  and  reject  one  whom  God 
has  raised  up  to  be  to  you  a  Prince,  and  a  Saviour ; 
you  may  understand,  if  you  will  not  wilfully  shut 
your  eyes  against  the  light,  that  God  will,  by  this 
Jesus,  deliver  you  out  of  a  worse  slavery  than  that 
in  Egypt ;  take  heed  then  of  thrusting  him  away, 
but  receive  him  as  a  Ruler  and  a  Judge  over  you.” 
[2.]  “Lest  you  hereby  fare  as  your  fathers  fared, 
who  for  this  were  justly  left  to  die  in  their  slavery, 
for  the  deliverance  came  not  till  forty  years  after  ; 
this  will  come  of  it,  you  put  away  the  gospel  from 
you,  and  it  will  be  sent  to  the  Gentiles  ;  you  will  not 
have  Christ,  and  you  shall  not  have  him,  so  shall 
your  doom  be,”  Matt.  23.  38,  39. 

30.  And  when  forty  3rears  were  expired, 
there  appeared  to  him  in  the  wilderness  of 
mount  Sina,  an  angel  of  the  Lord  in  a 
flame  of  fire  in  a  bush.  31.  When  Moses 
saw  it,  he  wondered  at  the  sight :  and  as 
he  drew  near  to  behold  it,  the  voice  of  the 
Lord  came  unto  him,  32.  Saying ,  I  am 
the  God  of  thy  fathers,  the  God  of  Abra¬ 
ham,  and  the  God  of  Isaac,  and  the  God 
of  Jacob.  Then  Moses  trembled,  and  durst 
not  behold.  33.  Then  said  the  Lord  to  him, 
Put  off  thy  shoes  from  thy  feet :  for  the 
place  where  thou  standest  is  holy  ground. 
34.  I  have  seen,  I  have  seen,  the  affliction 
of  my  people  which  is  in  Egypt,  and  ] 
have  heard  their  groaning,  and  am  come 
down  to  deliver  them.  And  now  come,  ] 
will  send  thee  into  Egypt.  35.  This  Moses 
whom  they  refused,  (saying,  Who  made 
thee  a  ruler  and  a  judge  ?)  the  same  did 
God  send  to  be  a  ruler,  and  a  deliverer,  by 
the  hands  of  the  angel  which  appeared  to 
him  in  the  bush.  36.  He  brought  them 
out,  after  that  he  had  shewed  wonders  and 
signs  in  the  land  of  Egypt,  and  in  the  Red 
sea,  and  in  the  wilderness,  forty  jrears. 

37.  This  is  that  Moses  which  said  unto  the 
children  of  Israel,  A  prophet  shall  the  Lord 
your  God  raise  up  unto  you  of  your  bre¬ 
thren,  like  unto  me  :  him  shall  ye  hear. 

38.  This  is  he  that  was  in  the  church  in 
the  wilderness,  with  the  angel  which  spake 
to  him  in  the  mount  Sina,  and  with  our 
fathers :  who  received  the  lively  oracles  to 
give  unto  us.  39.  Whom  our  fathers  would 
not  obey,  but  thrust  him  from  them,  and  in 
their  hearts  turned  back  again  into  Egypt, 


69 


THE  ACTS,  VII. 


40.  Saying  unto  Aaron,  Make  us  gods  to 
go  before  us  :  for  as  for  this  Moses,  which 
brought  us  out  of  the  land  of  Egypt,  we 
wot  not  what  is  become  of  him.  41.  And 
they  made  a  calf  in  those  days,  and  offered 
sacrifice  unto  the  idol,  and  rejoiced  in  the 
works  of  their  own  hands. 

Stephen  here  proceeds  in  his  story  of  Moses ;  and 
let  any  one  judge,  whether  these  be  the  words  of 
one  that  was  a  blasphemer  of  Moses  ;  no  ;  nothing 
could  be  spoken  more  honourably  of  him.  Here  is, 

I.  The  vision  which  he  saw  of  the  glory  of  God 
at  the  bush  ;  (x>.  30. )  When  forty  years  were  ex¬ 
pired,  during  all  which  time  Moses  was  buried  alive 
in  Midian,  and  was  now  grown  old,  and,  one  would 
think,  past  service,  that  it  might  appear  that  all  his 
performances  were  products  of  a  divine  power  and 
promise,  as  it  appeared  that  Isaac  was  a  child  of 
promise,  by  his  being  born  of  parents  stricken  in 
years  ;  now,  at  eighty  years  old,  he  enters  upon  that 
post  of  honour  to  which  he  was  born,  in  recompense 
for  his  self-denial  at  forty  years  old.  Observe, 

1.  Where  God  appeared  to  him  ;  In  the  wilder¬ 
ness  of  mount  Sinai,  v.  30.  And  when  he  appeared 
to  him  there,  that  was  holy  ground,  (v.  33. )  which 
Stephen  takes  notice  of,  as  a  check  to  those  who 
prided  themselves  in  the  temple,  that  holy  place,  as 
if  there  were  no  communion  to  be  had  with  God  but 
there  ;  whereas  God  met  Moses,  and  manifested 
himself  to  him,  in  a  remote  obscure  place  in  the  wil¬ 
derness  of  Sinai.  They  deceive  themselves,  if  they 
think  God  is  tied  to  places ;  he  can  bring  his  people 
into  a  wilderness,  and  there  speak  comfortably  to 
them. 

2.  How  he  appeared  to  him  ;  In  a  flame  of  fire  ; 
for  our  God  is  a  consuming  Fire  ;  and  yet  the  bush, 
in  which  this  fire  was,  though  combustible  matter, 
was  not  consumed ;  which,  as  it  represented  the 
state  of  Israel  in  Egypt,  where,  though  they  were 
in  the  fire  of  affliction,  yet  they  were  not  consumed, 
so  perhaps  may  be  looked  upon  as  a  type  of  Christ’s 
incarnation,  and  the  union  between  the  divine  and 
human  nature  ;  God,  manifested  in  the  flesh,  was  as 
the  flame  of  fire,  manifested  in  the  bush. 

3.  How  Moses  was  affected  with  this;  (1.)  He 
wondered  at  the  sight,  v.  31.  It  was  a  phenomenon 
which  all  his  Egyptian  learning  could  not  furnish 
him  with  the  solution  of.  He  had  the  curiosity  at 
first  to  pry  into  it ;  I  will  turn  aside  now,  and  see 
this  great  sight ;  but  the  nearer  he  drew,  the  more 
he  was  struck  with  amazement ;  and,  (2. )  He  trem¬ 
bled,  and  durst  not  behold,  durst  not  look  wistly 
upon  it ;  for  he  was  soon  aware  that  it  was  not  a 
fiery  meteor,  but  the  angel  of  the  Lord ;  and  no 
other  than  the  Angel  of  the  covenant,  the  Son  of 
God  himself.  This  set  him  a  trembling.  Stephen 
was  accused  for  blaspheming  Moses  and  God,  (ch. 
6.  11.)  as  if  Moses  had  been  a  little  god  ;  but,  by 
this  it  appears  that  he  was  a  man  subject  to  like 
passions  as  we  are  ;  and  particularly  that  of  fear, 
upon  any  appearance  of  the  divine  Majesty  and 
Glory. 

II.  The  declaration  which  he  heard  of  the  co¬ 
venant  of  God;  (v.  32.)  The  voice  of  the  Lord 
came  to  him;  for  faith  comes  by  hearing  ;  and  this 
was  it ;  I  am  the  God  of  thy  fathers,  the  God  of 
Abraham,  the  God  of  Isaac,  and  the  God  of  Jacob  ; 
and  therefore,  1.  “I  am  the  same  that  I  was.”  The 
covenant  God  made  with  Abraham  some  ages  ago, 
was,  I  will  be  to  thee  a  God,  a  God  all-sufficient. 
“Now,”  saitli  God,  “that  covenant  is  still  in  full 
force ;  it  is  not  cancelled  or  forgotten,  but  I  am,  as 
I  was,  the  God  of  Abraham,  and  now  I  will  make  it 
c  appear  so ;”  for  all  the  favours,  all  the  honours 


God  put  upon  Israel,  were  founded  upon  this  cove¬ 
nant  with  Abraham,  and  flowed  from  it.  2.  “I  will 
be  the  same  that  I  am.”  For  if  tfie  death  of  Abra¬ 
ham,  Isaac,  and  Jacob,  cannot  break  the  covenant- 
relation  between  God  and  them,  (as  by  this  it  ap¬ 
pears  it  could  not,)  then  nothing  else  can  :  and  then 
he  will  be  a  God, 

(1.)  To  their  souls,  which  are  now  separated  from 
their  bodies.  Our  Saviour  by  this  proves  the  future 
state,  Matt.  22.  31.  Abraham  is  dead,  and  yet  God 
is  still  his  God,  therefore  Abraham  is  still  alive. 
God  never  did  that  for  him  in  this  world,  which 
would  answer  the  true  intent  and  full  extent  of  that 
promise,  that  he  would  be  the  God  of  Abraham  ; 
and  therefore  it  must  be  done  for  him  in  the  other 
world.  Now  this  is  that  life  and  immortality  which 
are  brought  to  light  by  the  gospel,  for  the  full  con¬ 
viction  of  the  Sadducees,  who  denied  it.  Those 
therefore  who  stood  up  in  defence  of  the  gospel, 
and  endeavoured  to  propagate  that,  were  so  far  from 
blaspheming  Moses,  that  they  did  the  greatest  ho¬ 
nour  imaginable  to  Moses,  and  that  glorious  disco¬ 
very  which  God  made  of  himself  to  him  at  the  bush. 

(2.)  To  their  seed.  God,  in  declaring  himself 
thus  the  God  oj  their  fathers,  intimated  his  kindness 
to  their  seed,  that  they  should  be  loved  for  the  fa¬ 
thers’  sakes,  Rom.  li.  28.  Deut.  7.  8.'  Now  the 
preachers  of  the  gospel  preached  up  this  covenant, 
the  promise  made  of  God  unto  the  fathers ;  unto 
which  promise,  those  of  the  twelve  tribes,  that  did 
continue  serving  God,  hoped  to  come,  ch.  26.  6,  7. 
And  shall  they,  under  colour  of  supporting  the  holy 
place,  and  the  law,  oppose  the  covenant  which  was 
made  with  Abraham  and  his  seed,  his  spiritual  seed, 
before  the  law  was  given,  and  long  before  the  holy 
place  was  built?  Since  God’s  glory  must  be  for  ever 
advanced,  and  our  glorying  for  ever  silenced,  God 
will  have  our  salvation  to  be  by  promise',  and  not  by 
the  law  ;  the  Jews  therefore  who  persecuted  the 
Christians,  under  pretence  that  they  blasphemed  the 
law,  did  themselves  blaspheme  the  promise,  and  for¬ 
sook  all  their  own  mercies  that  were  contained  in  it. 

III.  The  commission  which  God  gave  him  to  de¬ 
liver  Israel  out  of  Egypt.  The  Jews  set  up  Moses 
in  competition  with  Christ,  and  accused  Stephen  as 
a  blasphemer,  because  he  did  not  do  so  too.  But 
Stephen  here  shews  that  Moses  was  an  eminent 
type  of  Christ,  as  he  was  Israel’s  deliverer.  When 
God  had  declared  himself  the  God  of  Abraham,  he 
proceeded, 

1.  To  order  Moses  into  a  reverent  posture  ;  “  Put 
off  thy  shoes  from  thy  feet.  Enter  not  upon  sacred 
things  with  low,  and  cold,  and  common  thoughts. 
Keep  thy  foot,  Eccl.  5.  1.  Be  not  hasty  and  rash  in 
thy  approaches  to  God  ;  tread  softly.” 

2.  To  order  Moses  into  a  very  eminent  service. 
When  he  is  ready  to  receive  commands,  he  shall 
have  commission.  He  is  commissioned  to  demand 
leave  from  Pharaoh  for  Israel  to  go  out  of  his  land, 
and  to  enforce  that  demand,  v.  34.  Observe,  (1.) 
The  notice  God  took  both  of  their  sufferings,  and 
of  their  sense  of  their  sufferings  ;  I  have  seen,  I 
have  seen,  their  affliction,  and  have  heard  their 
groaning.  God  has  a  compassionate  regard  to  the 
troubles  of  his  church,  and  the  groans  of  his  perse¬ 
cuted  people  ;  and  their  deliverance  takes  rise  from 
his  pity.  (2. )  The  determination  he  fixed  to  redeem 
them  by  the  ha?id  of  Moses  ;  I  am  come  down  to 
deliver  them.  It  should  seem,  though  God  is  pre¬ 
sent  in  all  places,  yet  he  uses  that  expression  here, 
of  coming  down  to  deliver  them,  because  that  deli¬ 
verance  was  typical  of  what  Christ  did,  when,  for 
us  men,  and.  for  our  salvation,  he  came  down  from 
heaven  ;  he  that  ascended,  first  descended.  Moses 
is  the  man  that  must  be  employed  ;  Come,  and  I  will 
send  thee  into  Egypt ;  and  if  God  send  him,  he  will 
own  him,  and  give  him  success. 


70 


THE  ACTS,  VII 


IV.  His  acting  in  pursuance  of  this  commission,  I 
■wherein  he  was  a  figure  of  the  Messiah.  And  Ste¬ 
phen  takes  notice  here  again  of  the  slights  they  had 
put  upon  him,  the  affronts  they  had  given  him,  and 
their  refusal  to  have  him  to  reign  over  them,  as 
tending  very  much  to  magnify  his  agency  in  their 
deliverance. 

1.  God  put  honour  upon  him,  whom  they  put 
contempt  upon;  (v.  35.)  This  Moses  whom  they 
refused,  whose  kind  offers,  and  good  offices  they 
rejected  with  scorn,  saying,  Who  made  thee  a  ruler 
and  a  judge ?  Thou  takest  too  much  upon  thee,  thou 
son  of  Levi ;  (Numb.  16.  3.)  that  same  Moses,  did 
God  send  to  be  a  ruler,  and  a  deliverer,  by  the  hands 
of  the  angel  which  appeared  to  him  in  the  bush.  It 
may  be  understood,  either  that  God  sent  to  him  by 
the  hand  of  the  angel ;  or,  that  by  the  hand  of  the 
angel  going  along  with  him,  he  became  a  complete 
deliverer.  Now,  by  this  example,  Stephen  would 
intimate  to  the  council.  That  this  Jesus  whom  they 
now  refused,  as  their  fathers  did  Moses,  saying, 
Who  made  thee  a  Prophet  and  a  King?  Who  gave 
thee  this  authority  ?  Even  this  same  has  God  ad¬ 
vanced  to  be  a  Prince  and  a  Saviour,  a  Ruler  and  a 
Deliverer ;  as  the  apostles  had  told  them  a  while 
ago,  (ch.  5.  30.)  that  the  Stone  which  the  builders 
refused,  was  become  the  head-stone  in  the  corner, 
ch.  4.  11. 

2.  God  shewed  favour  to  them  by  him,  and  he 
was  very  forward  to  serve  them,  though  they  had 
thrust  him  away.  God  might  justly  have  refused 
them  his  service,  and  he  might  justly  have  declined 
it ;  but  it  is  all  forgotten,  they  are  not  so  much  as 
upbraided  with  it,  v.  36.  He  brought  them  out, 
notwithstanding,  after  that  he  had  shewed  wonders 
and  signs  in  the  land  of  Egypt ;  which  were  after¬ 
ward  continued  for  the  completing  their  deliver¬ 
ance,  according  as  the  case  called  for  it,  in  the  Red 
sea,  and  in  the  wilderness  forty  years.  So  far  is  he 
from  blaspheming  Moses,  that  he  admires  him  as  a 
glorious  instrument  in  the  hand  of  God,  for  the  form¬ 
ing  of  the  Old  Testament  church.  But  it  does  not 
at  all  derogate  from  his  just  honour  to  say,  that  he 
was  but  an  instrument,  and  that  he  is  outshone  by 
this  Jesus,  whom  he  encourages  these  Jews  yet  to 
close  with,  and  to  come  into  his  interest,  not  fearing 
but  that  then  they  should  be  received  into  his  fa¬ 
vour,  and  receive  benefit  by  him,  as  the  people  of 
Israel  were  delivered  by  Moses,  though  they  had 
once  refused  him. 

V.  His  prophecy  of  Christ  and  his  grace,  v.  37. 
He  not  only  was  a  type  of  Christ,  (many  were  so, 
that  perhaps  had  not  an  actual  foresight  of  his  day,) 
but  Moses  spake  of  him  ;  (v.  37.)  This  is  that  Mo¬ 
ses,  which  said  unto  the  children  of  Israel,  A  prophet 
shall  the  Lord  your  God  raise  up  unto  you  of  your 
brethren.  This  is  spoken  of  as  one  of  the  greatest 
honours  God  put  upon  him,  (nay  as  that  which  ex¬ 
ceeded  all  the  rest,)  that  by  him  he  gave  notice 
to  the  children  of  Israel  of  the  great  Prophet  that 
should  come  into  the  world,  raised  their  expectation 
of  him,  and  obliged  them  to  receive  him.  When 
his  bringing  of  them  out  of  Egypt  is  spoken  of,  it  is 
with  an  emphasis  of  honour,  This  is  that  Moses! 
(Exod.  6.  26.)  And  so  it  is  here,  This  is  that  Moses  ! 
Now  this  is  very  full  to  Stephen’s  purpose  ;  in  as¬ 
serting  that  Jesus  should  change  the  customs  of 
the  ceremonial  lgw,  he  was  so  far  from  blasphem¬ 
ing  Moses,  that  really  he  did  him  the  greatest  ho¬ 
nour  imaginable,  by.  shewing  how  the  prophecy  of 
Moses  was  accomplished,  which  was  so  clear,  that, 
as  Christ  told  them  himself,  If  they  had  believed 
Moses ,  they  would  have  belitrved  him,  John  5.  46. 

1.  Moses,  in  God’s  name,  told  them,  that,  in  the 
fulness  of  time,  they  should  have  a  Prophet  raised 
up  among  them,  one  of  their  own  nation,  that  should 
be  like  unto  him,  (ch.  18.  15,  18.)  a  Ruler  and  a 


Deliverer,  a  Judge  and  a  Lawgiver,  like  him  ;  who 
should  therefore  have  authority  to  change  the  cus¬ 
toms  that  he  had  delivered,  and  to  bring  in  a  better 
hope,  as  the  Mediator  of  a  better  testament. 

2.  He  charged  them  to  hear  that  Prophet,  to  re¬ 
ceive  his  dictates,  to  admit  the  change  he  \yould 
make  in  their  customs,  and  to  submit  to  him  in  every 
thing  ;  and  this  will  be  the  greatest  honour  you  can 
do  to  Moses  and  to  his  law,  who  said,  Hear  ye  him  ; 
and  came  to  be  a  witness  to  the  repetition  of  this 
charge  by  a  voice  from  heaven,  at  the  transfgura- 
tion  of  Christ,  and  by  his  silence  he  gave  consent  to 
it,  Matt.  17.  5. 

VI.  The  eminent  services  which  Moses  continued 
to  do  to  the  people  of  Israel,  after  he  had  been  in¬ 
strumental  to  bring  them  out  of  Egypt,  v.  38.  And 
herein  also  he  was  a  type  of  Christ,  who  yet  so  far 
exceeds  him,  that  it  is  no  blasphemy  to  sav,  “  He  has 
authority  to  change  the  customs  "that  Moses  deli¬ 
vered.”  It  was  the  honour  of  Moses, 

1.  That  he  was  in  the  church  hi  the  wilderness ; 
he  presided  in  all  the  affairs  of  it  for  forty  years ; 
was  king  in  Jeshurun,  Deut.  33.  5.  The  camp  of 
Israel  is  here  called  the  church  in  the  wilderness  ; 
for  it  was  a  sacred  society,  incorporated  by  a  divine 
charter  under  a  divine  government,  and  blessed  with 
divine  revelation.  The  church  in  the  wilderness 
was  a  church,  though  it  was  not  yet  perfectly  form¬ 
ed,  as  it  was  to  be  when  they  came  to  Canaan,  but 
every  man  did  that  which  was  right  in  his  own  eyes, 
Deut.  12.  8,  9.  It  was  the  honour  of  Moses,  that  he 
was  in  that  church,  and  many  a  time  it  had  been 
destroyed  if  Moses  had  not  been  in  it  to  intercede  for 
it.  But  Christ  is  the  President  and  Guide  of  a  more 
excellent  and  glorious  church  than  that  in  the  wil¬ 
derness  was,  and  is  more  in  it,  a^'the  life  and  soul 
of  it,  than  Moses  could  be  in  that. 

2.  That  he  was  with  the  angel  that  spake  to  him  in 
the  mount  Sinai,  and  with  our  fathers  ;  was  with 
him  in  the  holy  mount  twice  forty  days,  with  the 
angel  of  the  covenant,  Michael,  our  Prince.  Moses 
was  immediately  conversant  with  God,  but  never 
lay  in  his  bosom  as  Christ  did  from  eternity.  Or, 
these  words  may  be  taken  thus  ;  Moses  was  in  the 
church  in  the  wilderness,  but  it  was  with  the  angel 
that  spake  to  him  in  mount  Sinai,  that  is,  at  the  burn¬ 
ing  bush  ;  for  that  was  said  to  be  at  mount  Sinai,  (v. 
30.)  that  angel  went  before  him,  and  was  guide  to 
him,  else  he  could  not  have  been  a  guide  to  Israel ; 
of  this  God  speaks,  (Exod.  23.  20.)  I  send  an  angel 
before  thee,  and  Exod.  33.  2.  And  see  Numb.  20.  16. 
He  was  in  the  church  with  the  angel,  without  whom 
he  could  have  done  no  service  to  the  church  ;  but 
Christ  is  himself  that  angel,  which  was  with  the 
church  in  the  wilderness,  and  therefore  has  an  au¬ 
thority  above  Moses. 

3.  That  he  received  the  lively  oracles  to  gix'e  unto 
them ;  not  only  the  ten  commandments,  but  the 
other  instructions  which  the  Lord  spake  unto  Clo¬ 
ses,  saying,  Speak  them  to  the  children  of  Israel. 
(1.)  The  words  of  God  are  oracles,  certain  and  in¬ 
fallible,  and  of  unquestionable  authority  and  obliga¬ 
tion  ;  they  are  to  be  consulted  as  oracles,  and  by 
them  all  controversies  must  be  determined.  (2.) 
They  are  lively  oracles,  for  they  are  the  oracles  of 
the  living  God,  not  of  the  dumb  and  dead  idols  of  the 
heathens  ;  the  word  that  God  speaks,  is  spirit  and 
life  ;  not  that  the  law  of  Moses  could  give  life,  but 
it  shewed  the  way  to  life  ;  If  thou  wilt  enter  into 
life,  keep  the  commandments.  (3.)  Moses  received 
them  from  God,  and  delivered  nothing  as  an  oracle 
to  the  people  but  what  he  had  first  received  from 
God.  (4.)  The  lively  oracles  which  he  received 
from  God,  he  faithfully  gave  to  the  people,  to  be 
observed  and  preserved.  It  was  the  principal  pri¬ 
vilege  of  the  Jews,  that  to  them  were  committed  the 

|  oracles  of  God:  and  it  was  bv  the  hand  of  Moses 


71 


THE  ACTS,  Vll. 


that  they  were  committed.  As  Moses  gave  them 
not  that  bread,  so  neither  did  he  give  them  that  law 
from  heaven,  (John  6.  32.)  but  God  gave  it  them  ; 
and  he  that  gave  them  those  customs  by  his  servant 
Moses,  might,  no  doubt,  when  he  pleased,  change 
the  customs  by  his  Son  Jesus,  who  has  received 
more  lively  oracles  to  give  unto  us,  than  Moses  did. 

VII.  The  contempt  that  was,  after  this,  and  not¬ 
withstanding  this,  put  upon  him  by  the  people. 
They  that  charged  Stephen  with  speaking  against 
Moses,  would  do  well  to  answer  what  their  own  an¬ 
cestors  had  done,  and  they  tread  in  their  steps. 

1.  They  would  not  obey  him,  but  thrust  him  from 
them,  v.  35.  They  murmured  at  him,  mutinied 
against  him,  refused  to  obey  his  orders,  and  some¬ 
times  were  ready  to  stone  him.  Moses  did  indeed 
give  them  an  excellent  law,  but  by  this  it  appeared 
that  it  could  not  make  the  comers  thereunto  perfect, 
(Heb.  10.  1.)  for  in  their  hearts  they  turned  back 
again  into  Egypt,  and  preferred  their  garlick  and 
onions  there,  before  the  manna  they  had  under  the 
conduct  of  Moses,  or  the  milk  and  honey  they  hoped 
for  in  Canaan.  Observe,  Their  secret  disaffection  to 
Moses,  and  inclination  to  Egyptianism,  (if  I  may  so 
call  it,)  were,  in  effect,  turning  back  to  Egypt,  it 
was  doing  it  in  heart ;  many  that  pretend  to  be  go¬ 
ing  forwards  toward  Canaan,  by  keeping  up  a  shew 
and  profession  of  religion,  are,  at  the  same  time,  in 
their  hearts  turning  back  to  Egypt,  like  Lot’s  wife 
to  Sodom,  and  will  be  dealt  with  as  deserters,  for  it 
is  the  heart  that  God  looks  at.  Now  if  the  customs 
that  Moses  delivered  to  them  could  not  prevail  to 
change  them,  wonder  not  that  Christ  comes  to 
change  the  customs,  and  to  introduce  a  more  spiri¬ 
tual  way  of  worship. 

2.  They  made  a  golden  ca// instead  of  him,  which, 
beside  the  affront  that  was  thereby  done  to  God, 
was  a  great  indignity  to  Moses  :  for  it  was  upon  this 
consideration  that  they  made  the  calf  :  because,  as 
for  this  Moses,  who  brought  us  out  of  tM  land  of 
Egypt,  we  wot  not  what  is  become  of  him ;  there¬ 
fore  make  us  gods  of  gold  ;  as  if  a  calf  were  suffici¬ 
ent  to  supply  the  want  of  Moses,  and  as  capable  of 
going  before  them  into  the  promised  land.  So  they 
made  a  calf  in  those  days  when  the  law  was  given 
them,  and  offered  sacrifices  unto  the  idol,  and  re¬ 
joiced  in  the  work  of  their  own  hands.  So  proud 
were  they  of  their  new  god,  that  when  they  had 
sitten  down  to  eat  and  drink,  they  rose  up  to  play  ! 
By  all  this  it  appears  that  there  was  a  great  deal 
which  the  law  could  not  do,  in  that  it  was  weak 
through  the  flesh  ;  it  was  therefore  necessary  that 
this  law  should  be  perfected  by  a  better  hand,  and 
he  was  no  blasphemer  against  Moses,  who  said 
Christ  had  done  it. 

42.  Then  God  turned,  and  gave  them 
up  to  worship  the  host  oC  heaven  ;  as  it  is 
written  in  the  book  of  the  prophets,  O  ye 
house  of  Israel,  have  ye  offered  to  me  slain 
beasts,  and  sacrifices,  by  the  space  of  forty 
years  in  the  wilderness  ?  43.  Yea,  ye  took 
up  the  tabernacle  of  Moloch,  and  the  star 
of  your  god  Remphan,  figures  which  ye 
made,  to  worship  them :  and  I  will  carry 
you  away  beyond  Babylon.  44.  Our  fa¬ 
thers  had  the  tabernacle  of  witness  in  the 
wilderness,  as  he  had  appointed,  speaking 
unto  Moses,  that  he  should  make  it  ac¬ 
cording  to  the  fashion  that  he  had  seen. 
45.  Which  also  our  fathers  that  came  after, 
brought  in  with  Jesus  into  the  possession 
of  the  Gentiles,  whom  God  drave  out  be- 


[  fore  the  face  of  our  fathers,  unto  the  days 
ol  David.  4G.  Who  found  favour  before 
God,  and  desired  to  find  a  tabernacle  for 
the  God  of  Jacob.  47.  But  Solomon  built 
him  a  house.  48.  Howbeit  the  most  High 
dwelleth  not  in  temples  made  with  hands ; 
as  saith  the  prophet,  49.  Heaven  is  my 
throne,  and  earth  is  my  footstool:  what 
house  will  ye  build  me  ?  saith  the  Lord : 
or  what  is  the  place  of  my  rest  ?  50.  Hath 
not  my  hand  made  all  these  things  ? 

Two  things  we  have  in  these  verses  : 

I.  Stephen  upbraids  them  with  the  idolatry  of 
their  fathers,  which-  God  gave  them  up  to,  as  a  pu¬ 
nishment  for  their  early  forsaking  him  in  worship¬ 
ping  the  golden  calf ;  and  this  was  the  saddest  pu¬ 
nishment  of  all  for  that  sin,  "as  it  was  of  the  idolatry 
of  the  Gentile  world,  that  God  gave  them  up  to  a 
reprobate  sense.  When  Israel  was  joined  to  idols, 
joined  to  the  golden  calf,  and,  not  long  after,  to 
Baal-peor,  God  said,  Let  them  alone ;  let  them  go 
on,  v.  42.  Then  God  turned,  and  gave  them  up  to 
worship  the  host  of  heaven.  He  particularly  cau¬ 
tioned  them  not  to  do  it,  at  their  peril,  and  gave  them 
reasons  why  they  should  not ;  but  when  they  were 
bent  upon  it  he  gave  them  up  to  their  own  hearts 
lust,  withdrew  his  restraining  grace,  and  then  they 
walked  in  their  own  counsels,  and  were  so  scanda¬ 
lously  mad  upon  their  idols,  as  never  any  people 
were.  Compare  Deut.  4.  19.  with  Jer.  8.  2. 

For  this  he  quotes  a  passage  out  of  Amos  5.  25.  For 
it  would  be  less  invidious  to  tell  them  their  own  from 
an  Old  Testament  prophet,  who  upbraids  them, 

1.  For  not  sacrificing  to  their  own  God  in  the  wil¬ 
derness  ;  (v.  42.)  Have  ye  offered  to  me  slain  beasts, 
and  sacrifices,  by  the  space  of  forty  years  in  the  wil¬ 
derness  ?  No ;  during  all  that  time  it  was  intermit¬ 
ted  ;  they  did  not  so  much  as  keep  the  passover  after 
the  second  year.  It  was  God’s  condescension  to 
them,  that  he  did  not  insist  upon  it  during  their  un¬ 
settled  state;  but  then  let  them  consider  how  ill  they 
requited  him,  in  offering  sacrifices  to  idols,  when 
God  dispensed  with  their  offering  to  him.  This  is 
also  a  check  to  their  zeal  for  the  customs  that  Mo¬ 
ses  delivered  to  them,  and  their  fear  of  having  them 
changed  by  this  Jesus,  that  immediately  after  they 
were  delivered,  they  were  for  forty  years  together 
disused  as  needless  things. 

2.  For  sacrificing  to  other  gods  after  they  came  to 
Canaan  ;  ( v .  43.)  Ye  took  up  the  tabernacle  of  Mo¬ 
loch.  Moloch  was  the  idol  of  the  children  of  Am¬ 
mon,  to  which  they  barbarously  offered  their  own 
children  in  sacrifice,  which  they  could  not  do  with¬ 
out  great  terror  and  grief  to  themselves  and  their 
families ;  yet  this  unnatural  idolatry  they  arrived  at, 
when  God  gave  them  up  to  worship  the  host  of  hea¬ 
ven.  See  2  Chron.  28.  3.  It  was  surely  the  strong¬ 
est  delusion  that  ever  people  were  given  up  to,  and 
the  greatest  instance  of  the  power  of  Satan  in  the 
children  of  disobedience,  and  therefore  it  is  here  spo¬ 
ken  of  emphatically,  Yea,  you  took  uh  the  taberna¬ 
cle  of  Moloch ,  you,  submitted  even  to  that,  and  to 
the  worship  of  the  star  of  your  god  Remphan  ;  some 
think,  it  signifies  the  moon,  as  Moloch  does  the  sun  ; 
others  take  it  for  Saturn,  for  that  planet  is  called 
Rejnphan,  in  the  Syriac  and  Persian  languages. 
The  Septuagint.  puts’ it  for  Chiun,  as  being  a  name 
more  commonly  known.  They  had  images  repre¬ 
senting  the  star,  like  the  silver  shrines  for  Diana, 
here  called  the  figures  which  they  made  to  worship. 
Dr.  Lightfoot  thinks  they  had  figures  representing 
the  whole  starry  firmament,  with  all  the  constella¬ 
tions,  and  the  planets>  and  these  are  called  Rem¬ 
phan,  “the  high  representation,”  like  the  celestial 


72 


THE  ACTS,  VII. 


globe.  A  poor  thing  to  make  an  idol  of,  and  yet  ; 
better  than  a  golden  calf  ! 

Now  for  this  it  is  threatened,  I  will  carry  you  away 
beyond  Babylon.  In  Amos  it  is  beyond  Damascus, 
meaning  to  Babylon,  the  land  of  the  north.  But 
Stephen  changes  it,  with  an  eye  to  the  captivity  of 
the  ten  tribes,  who  were  carried  away  beyond  Ba¬ 
bylon,  by  the  river  of  Gozan,  and  in  the  cities  of  the 
Medes,  2  Kings  17.  6.  Let  it  not  therefore  seem 
strange  to  them,  to  hear  of  the  destruction  of  this 
place,  for  they  had  heard  of  it  many  a  time  from  the 
prophets  of  the  Old  Testament,  who  were  not  there¬ 
fore  accused  as  blasphemers  by  any  but  the  wicked 
rulers.  It  was  observed,  in  the  debate  on  Jeremi¬ 
ah’s  case,  that  Micah  was  not  called  to  an  account, 
though  he  prophesied,  saying,  Zion  shall  be  ploughed 
as  a  field,  Jer.  26.  18,  19. 

II.  He  gives  an  answer  particularly  to  the  charge 
exhibited  against  him  relating  to  the  temple,  that 
he  spake  blasphemous  words  against  that  holy 
place,  v.  44 — 50.  He  was  accused  for  saying  that 
Jesus  would  destroy  this  holy  place  ;  “And  what  if 
I  did  say  so  ?”  (saith  Stephen  ;)  “the  glory  of  the 
holy  God  is  not  bound  up  in  the  glory  of  this  holy 
place,  but  that  may  be  preserved  untouched,  though 
this  be  laid  in  the  dust for, 

1.  It  was  not  till  our  fathers  came  into  the  wilder¬ 
ness,  in  their  way  to  Canaan,  that  they  had  any  fixed 
place  of  worship  ;  and  yet  the  patriarchs,  many  ages 
before,  worshipped  God  acceptably  at  the  altars 
they  had  adjoining  to  their  own  tents  in  the  open  air 
— sub  dio ;  and  he  that  was  worshipped  without  a 
holy  place,  in  the  first,  and  best,  and  purest  ages  of 
the  Old  Testament  church,  may  and  will  be  so  when 
this  holy  place  is  destroyed,  without  any  diminution 
to  his  giory. 

2.  The  holy  place  was  at  first  but  a  tabernacle, 
mean  and  moveable,  speaking  itself  to  be  short¬ 
lived,  and  not  designed  to  continue  always.  Why 
might  not  this  holy  place,  though  built  of  stones,  be 
decently  brought  to  its  end,  and  give  place  to  its 
betters,  as  well  as  that  though  framed  of  curtains  ? 
As  it  was  no  dishonour,  but  an  honour,  to  God,  that 
the  tabernacle  gave  way  to  the  temple,  so  it  is  now 
that  the  material  temple  gives  way  to  the  spiritual 
one,  and  so  it  will  be  when,  at  last,  the  spiritual 
temple  shall  give  way  to  the  eternal  one. 

3.  That  tabernacle  was  a  tabernacle  of  witness,  or 
of  testimony,  a  figure  for  the  time  then  present, 
(Heb.  9.  9.)  a  figure  of  good  things  to  come,  of  the 
true  tabernacle  which  the  Lord  pitched,  and  not 
men,  Heb.  8.  2.  This  was  the  glory  both  of  the  ta¬ 
bernacle  and  temple,  that  they  were  erected  for  a 
testimony  of  that  temple  of  God,  which  in  the  latter 
days  should  be  opened  in  heaven,  (Rev.  11.  19.)  and 
of  Christ's  tabernacling  it  on  earth,  (as  the  word  is, 
John  1.  14.)  and  of  the  temple  of  his  body. 

4.  That  tabernacle  was  framed  just  as  God  ap¬ 
pointed,  and  according  to  the  fashion  which  Moses 
saw  in  the  mount;  which  plainly  intimates  that  it 
had  reference  to  good  things  to  come  ;  its  rise  being 
heavenly,  its  meaning  and  tendency  were  so ;  and 
therefore  it  was  no  diminution  at  all  to  its  glory,  to 
say,  that  this  temple  made  with  hands  should  be  des¬ 
troyed,  in  order  to  the  building  of  another  made 
without  hands ;  which  was  Christ’s  crime,  (Mark 
14.  58.)  and  Stephen’s. 

5.  That  tabernacle  was  pitched  first  in  the  wil¬ 
derness  ;  it  was  not  a  native  of  this  land  of  yours, 
(to  which  you  think  it  must  for  ever  be  confined,) 
but  was  brought  in  in  the  next  age,  by  our  fathers, 
who  came  after  those  who  first  erected  it,  into  the 
possession  of  the  Gentiles,  into  the  land  of  Canaan, 
which  had  long  been  in  the  possession  of  the  de¬ 
voted  nations,  whom  God  drove  out  before  the  face 
/of  our  fathers.  And  why  may  not  God  set  up  his 
spiritual  temple,  as  he  had  done  the  material  taber¬ 


nacle,  in  those  countries  that  were  now  the  posses¬ 
sion  of  the  Gentiles?  That  tabernacle  was  brought 
in  by  those  who  came  with  Jesus,  that  is,  Joshua. 
And  I  think,  for  distinction-sake,  and  to  prevent 
mistakes,  it  ought  to  be  so  read,  both  here  and  Heb. 

4.  8.  Yet,  in  naming  Joshua  here,  which,  in  Greek, 
is  Jesus,  there  may  be  a  tacit  intimation,  that  as  the 
Old  Testament  Joshua  brought  in  that  typical  taber¬ 
nacle,  so  the  New  Testament  Joshua  should  bring 
in  the  true  tabernacle  into  the  possession  of  the 
Gentiles. 

6.  That  tabernacle  continued  for  many  ages,  even 
to  the  days  of  David,  above  four  hundred  years,  be¬ 
fore  there  was  any  thought  of  building  a  temple,  v. 
45.  David,  having  found  favour  before  God,  did 
indeed  desire  this  further  favour,  to  have  leave  to 
build  God  a  house,  to  be  a  constant,  settled  taberna¬ 
cle  or  dwelling-place,  for  the  Shechinah,  or  the  to¬ 
kens  of  the  presence  of  the  God  of  Jacob,  v.  46. 
Those  who  have  found  favour  with  God,  should 
shew  themselves  forward  to  advance  the  interests 
of  his  kingdom  among  men. 

7.  God  had  his  heart  so  little  upon  a  temple,  or 
such  a  holy  place  as  they  were  so  jealous  for,  that, 
when  Davfd  desired  to  build  one,  he  was  forbidden 
to  do  it ;  God  was  in  no  haste  for  one,  as  he  told  Da¬ 
vid  ;  (2  Sam.  7.  7. )  and  therefore  it  was  not  he,  but 
his  son  Solomon,  some  years  after,  that  built  him  a 
house.  David  had  all  that  sweet  communion  with 
God  in  public  worship,  which  we  read  of  in  his 
psalms,  before  there  was  any  temple  built. 

8.  God  often  declared,  that  temples,  made  with 
hands,  were  not  his  delight,  nor  could  add  any 
thing  to  the  perfection  of  his  rest  and  joy.  Solo¬ 
mon,  when  he  dedicated  the  temple,  acknowledged 
that  God  dwelleth  not  in  temples  made  with  hands  ; 
he  has  not  need  of  them,  is  not  benefited  by  them, 
cannot  be  confined  to  them.  The  whole  world  is  his 
temple,  in  which  he  is  every  where  present,  and  fills 
it  with  his  glory ;  and  what  occasion  has  he  for  a 
temple  then  to  manifest  himself  in  ?  Indeed  the  pre¬ 
tended  deities  of  the  heathen  needed  temples  made 
with  hands,  for  they  were  gods  made  with  hands, 
( v .  41.)  and  had  no  other  place  to  manifest  them¬ 
selves  in  than  in  their  own  temples ;  but  the  one 
only  true  and  living  God  needs  no  temple,  for  the 
heaven  is  his  throne,  in  which  he  rests,  and  the  earth 
is  his  footstool,  over  which  he  rules  ;  (v.  49,  50.)  and 
therefore,  What  house  will  ye  build  me,  comparable 
to  this  which  I  have  already  ?  Or,  what  is  the  place 
of  my  rest  ?  What  need  have  I  of  a  house,  either  to 
repose  myself  in,  or  to  shew  myself?  Hath  not  my 
hand  made  all  these  things  ?  And  these  shew  his  eter¬ 
nal  power  and  Godhead;  (Rom.  1.  20.)  they  shew 
themselves  so  to  all  mankind,  that  they  are  without 
excuse,  who  worship  other  gods.  And  as  the  world 
is  thus  God’s  temple,  wherein  he  is  manifested,  so 
it  is  God’s  temple  in  which  he  will  be  worshipped. 
As  the  earth  is  full  of  his  glory,  and  is  therefore  his 
temple,  (Isa.  6.  3.)  so  the  earth  is,  or  shall  be,  full 
of  his  p raise ,  (Hab.  2.  3.)  and  all  the  ends  of  the 
earth  shall  fear  him;  (Ps.  67.  7.)  upon  that  ac¬ 
count  it  is  his  temple.  It  was  therefore  no  reflection 
at  all  upon  this  holy  place,  however  they  might  take 
it,  to  say  that  Jesus  shall  destroy  this  temple  and  set 
up  another,  into  which  all  nations  shall  be  admitted, 
ch.  15.  16,  17.  And  it  would  not  seem  strange  to 
them  who  considered  that  scripture  which  Stephen 
here  quotes,  (Isa.  66.  1 — 3.)  which,  as  it  spake  God’s 
comparative  contempt  of  the  external  part  of  his 
service,  so  it  plainly  foretold  the  rejection  of  the  un¬ 
believing  Jews,  and  the  welcome  of  the  Gentiles 
into  the  church,  that  were  of  a  contrite  spirit. 

51.  Ye  stiff-necked,  and  uncircumcised 
in  heart  and  cars,  ye  do  always  resist  the 
|  Holy  Ghost  ’  as  your  fathers  did,  so  do  ye 


73 


THE  ACTS,  VII. 


52.  Which  of  the  prophets  have  not  your 
fathers  persecuted  ?  And  they  have  slain 
them  which  shewed  before  of  the  coming 
of  the  just  One,  of  whom  ye  have  been 
now  the  betrayers  and  murderers:  53. 
Who  have  received  the  law  by  the  dispo¬ 
sition  of  angels,  and  have  not  kept  it. 

Stephen  was  going  on  in  his  discourse,  (as  it  should 
seem  by  the  thread  of  it,)  to  shew  that,  as  the  tem¬ 
ple,  so  the  temple-service  must  come  to  an  end,  and 
it  would  lie  the  glory  of  both  to  give  way  to  that 
worship  of  the  Father  in  spirit  and  in  truth ,  which 
was  to  be  established  in  the  kingdom  of  the  Messiah, 
stripped  of  the  pompous  ceremonies  of  the  old  law  ; 
and  so  he  was  going  to  apply  all  this  which  he  had 
said,  more  closely  to  his  present  purpose ;  but  lie 
perceived  they  could  not  bear  it;  they  could  pa¬ 
tiently  hear  the  history  of  the  Old  Testament  told ; 
(it  was  a  piece  of  learning  which  they  themselves 
dealt  much  in  ;)  but  if  Stephen  go  about  to  tell 
them  that  their  power  and  tyranny  must  come 
down,  and  that  the  church  must  be  governed  by  a 
spirit  of  holiness  and  love,  and  heavenly-mlnded- 
ness,  they  will  not  so  much  as  give  him  the  hearing. 
It  is  probable  that  he  perceived  this,  and  that  they 
were  going  to  silence  him  ;  and  therefore  he  breaks 
off  abruptly  in  the  midst  of  his  discourse,  and  by 
that  spirit  of  wisdom,  courage  and  power  where¬ 
with  he  was  filled,  he  sharply  rebuked  his  persecu¬ 
tors,  and  gave  them  their  own  ;  for  if  they  will  not 
admit  the  testimony  of  the  gospel  to  them,  it  shall 
become  a  testimony  against  them. 

I.  They,  like  their  fathers,  were  stubborn  and 
wilful,  and  would  not  be  wrought  upon  by  the  va¬ 
rious  methods  God  took  to  reclaim  and  reform 
them  ;  they  were  like  their  fathers,  inflexible  both 
to  the  word  of  God  and  to  his  providences. 

1.  They  were  stiff-necked,  (y.  51.)  and  would  not 
submit  their  necks  to  the  sweet  and  easy  yoke  of 
God’s  government,  nor  draw  in  it,  but  were  like  a 
bullock,  unaccustomed  to  the  yoke  ;  or  they  would  not 
bow  their  heads,  no  not  to  God  himself,  would  not 
do  obeisance  to  him,  would  not  humble  themselves 
before  him  ;  the  stiff  neck  is  the  same  with  the  hard 
heart,  obstinate  and  contumacious,  and  that  will  not 
yield — the  general  character  of  the  Jewish  natibn, 
Exod.  32.  9.-33.  3,  5.-34.  9.  Deut.  9.  6,  13.— 
31.  27.  Ezek.  2.  4. 

2.  They  were  uncircumcised  in  heart  and  ears ; 
their  hearts  and  ears  were  not  devoted  and  given  up 
to  God,  as  the  body  of  the  people  were  in  profes¬ 
sion  by  the  sign  of  circumcision;  “In  name  and 
shew  you  are  circumcised  Jews,  but  in  heart  and 
ears  you  are  still  uncircumcised  heathens,  and  pay 
no  more  deference  to  the  authority  of  your  (jod 
than  they  do,  Jer.  9.  26.  You  are  under  the  power 
of  unmortified  lusts  and  corruptions,  which  stop 
your  ears  to  the  voice  of  God,  and  harden  your 
hearts  to  that  which  is  both  most  commanding  and 
most  affecting.”  4' hey  had  not  that  circumcision 
made  without  hands,  in  putting  off  the  body  of  the 

i  sins  of  the  flesh,  Col.  2.  11. 

I  II.  They,  like  their  fathers,  were  not  only  not  in- 
|  fluenced  by  the  methods  God  took  to  reform  them, 
I  but  they  were  enraged  and  incensed  against  them  ; 
I  Ye  do  always  resist  the  Holy  Ghost. 

1.  They  resisted  the  Holy  Ghost  speaking  to  them 
1  by  the  prophets,  whom  they  opposed  ancl  contra- 
|  dieted,  hated  and  ridiculed ;  this  seems  especially 
meant  here,  by  the  following  explication,  Which  of 
the  prophets  Have  not  your  fathers  persecuted?  In 
persecuting  and  silencing  them  that  spake  by  the 
inspiration  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  they  resisted  the  Holy 
Ghost.  Their  fathers  resisted  the  Holy  Ghost  in 
the  prophets  that  God  raised  up  to  them,  and  so  did 
Vol.  VI.— K 


they  in  Christ’s  apostles  and  ministers,  who  spake 
by  the  same  Spirit,  and  had  greater  measures  of  his 
gifts  than  the  prophets  of  the  Old  Testament  had, 
and  yet  were  more  resisted. 

2.  They  resisted  the  Holy  Ghost  striving  with 
them  by  their  own  consciences,  and  would  not  com¬ 
ply  with  the  convictions  and  dictates  of  them.  God’s 
Spirit  strove  with  them  as  with  the  old  world,  but 
in  vain ;  they  resisted  him,  took  ’part  with  then- 
corruptions  against  their  convictions,  and  rebelled 
against  the  light.  There  is  that  in  our  sinful  hearts, 
that  always  resists  the  Holy  Ghost,  a  flesh  that  lusts 
against  the  Spirit,  and  wars  against  his  motions; 
but  in  the  hearts  of  God’s  elect,  when  the  fulness 
of  time  comes,  this  resistance  is  overcome  and  over¬ 
powered,  and  after  a  struggle  the  throne  of  Christ 
is  set  up  in  the  soul,  and  every  thought  that  had  ex¬ 
alted  itself  against  it,  is  brought  into  captivity  to  it, 
2  Cor.  10.  4,  5.  That  grace  therefore  which  effects 
this  change,  might  more  fitly  be  called  victorious 
grace,  than  irresistible. 

III.  They,  like  their  fathers,  persecuted  and  slew 
those  whom  God  sent  unto  them  to  call  them  to  duty, 
and  make  them  offers  of  mercy. 

1.  Their  fathers  had  been  the  cruel  and  constant 
persecutors  of  the  Old  Testament  prophets  \v. 
57.)  Which  of  the  prophets  have  not  your  fathers 
persecuted  ?  More  or  less,  one  time  or  other,  they 
had  a  blow  at  them  all.  With  regard  even  to  those 
that  lived  in  the  best  reigns,  when  the  princes  did 
not  persecute  them,  there  was  a  malignant  party  in 
the  nation  that  mocked  at  them  and  abused  them, 
and  most  of  them  were  at  last,  either  by  colour  of 
law,  or  popular  fury,  put  to  death  ;  and  that  which 
aggravated  the  sin  of  persecuting  the  prophets,  was, 
that  the  business  of  the  prophets  they  were  so  spite¬ 
ful  at,  was,  to  shew  before  of  the  coming  of  the  Just 
One  ;  to  give  notice  of  God’s  kind  intentions  toward 
that  people,  to  send  the  Messiah  among  them  in  the 
fulness  of  time.  They  that  were  the  messengers  of 
such  glad  tidings,  should  have  been  courted  and  ca¬ 
ressed,  and  have  had  the  preferments  of  the  best  of 
benefactors ;  but,  instead  of  that,  they  had  the  treat¬ 
ment  of  the  worst  of  malefactors. 

2.  They  had  been  the  betrayers  and  murderers 
of  the  Just  One  himself,  as  Peter  had  told  them,  ch. 

3.  24. — 5.  30.  They  had  hired  Judas  to  betrav  him, 
and  had  in  a  manner  forced  Pilate  to  condemn  him  ; 
and  therefore  it  is  charged  upon  them,  that  they 
were  his  betrayers  and  murderers.  Thus  they  were 
the  genuine  seed  of  those  who  slew  them  that  fore¬ 
told  his  coming,  which  by  slaying  him,  they  shewed 
they  would  have  done  if  they  had  lived  then  ;  and 
thus,  our  Saviour  had  told  them,  they  brought  upon 
themselves  the  guilt  of  the  blood  of  all  the  pro¬ 
phets.  Which  of  the  prophets  would  they  have 
shewed  any  respect  to,  who  had  no  regard  to  the 
Son  of  God  himself? 

IV.  They,  like  their  fathers,  put  contempt  upon 
divine  revelation,  and  would  not  be  guided  and  go¬ 
verned  by  it ;  and  this  was  the  aggravation  of  their 
sin,  that  God  had  given,  as  to  their  fathers  his  law, 
so  to  them  his  gospel,  in  vain. 

1.  Their  fathers  received  the  law,  and  have  not 
kept  it,  v.  53.  God  wrote  to  them  the  great  things 
of  his  law,  after  he  had  first  spoken  to  them  ;  and 
yet  they  were  counted  by  them  as  a  strange  or 
foreign  thing,  which  they  were  no  way  concerned 
in.  The  law  is  said  to  be  received  by  the  disposition 
of  angels,  because  angels  were  employed  in  the  so¬ 
lemnity  of  giving  the  law ;  in  the  thunderings  and 
lightnings,  and  the  sound  of  the  trumpet.  It  is  said 
to  be  ordained  by  angels  ;  (Gal.  3.  19.)  God  is  said 
|  to  come  with  ten  thousand  of  his  saints,  to  give  the 
i  law  ;  (Deut.  33.  2.)  and  it  was  a  word  spoken  by  an- 
j  gels,  Heb.  2.  2.  This  put  an  honour  both  upon  the 
I  law  and  the  Lawgiver,  and  should  increase  our  vc 


74 


THE  ACTS,  VII. 


neratlon  for  both.  But  they  that  thus  received  the  I 
law,  yet  kept  it  not,  but  by  making  the  golden  calf 
broke  it  immediately  in  a  capital  instance. 

2.  They  received  the  gospel  now,  by  the  disposi-  | 
tion,  not  of  angels,  but  of  the  Holy  Ghost ;  not  with 
the  sound  of  a  trumpet,  but,  which  was  more  strange, 
in  the  gift  of  tongues,  and  yet  they  did  not  embrace 
it.  They  would  not  yield  to  the  plainest  demonstra¬ 
tions,  any  more  than  their  fathers  before  them  did, 
for  they  were  resolved  not  to  comply  with  God 
either  in  his  law  or  in  his  gospel. 

We  have  reason  to  think  Stephen  had  a  great 
deal  more  to  say,  and  would  have  said  it,  if  they 
would  have  suffered  him  ;  but  they  were  wicked 
and  unreasonable  men  with  whom  he  had  to  do,  that 
could  no  more  hear  reason  than  they  could  speak  it. 

54.  When  they  heard  these  things,  they 
were  cut  to  the  heart,  and  they  gnashed 
on  him  with  their  teeth.  55.  But  he,  being 
full  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  looked  up  stead¬ 
fastly  into  heaven,  and  saw  the  glory  of 
God,  and  Jesus  standing  on  the  right  hand 
of  God.  56.  And  said,  Behold,  I  see  the 
heavens  opened,  and  the  Son  of  man  stand¬ 
ing  on  the  right  hand  of  God.  57.  Then 
they  cried  out  with  a  loud  voice,  and 
stopped  their  ears,  and  ran  upon  him  with 
one  accord,  58.  And  cast  him  out  of  the 
city,  and  stoned  him:  and  the  witnesses 
laid  down  their  clothes  at  a  young  man’s 
feet,  whose  name  was  Saul.  59.  And  they 
stoned  Stephen,  calling  upon  God ,  and  say¬ 
ing,  Lord  Jesus,  receive  my  spirit.  60. 
And  he  kneeled  down,  and  cried  with  a 
loud  voice,  Lord,  lay  not  this  sin  to  their 
charge.  And  when  he  had  said  this,  he 
fell  asleep. 

We  have  here  the  death  of  the  first  martyr  of  the 
Christian  church,  and  there  is  in  this  story  a  lively 
instance  of  the  outrage  and  fuiy  of  the  persecutors, 
(such  as  we  may  expect  to  meet  with  if  we  are 
called  out  to  suffer  for  Christ,)  and  of  the  courage 
and  comfort  of  the  persecuted,  that  are  thus  called 
out.  Here  is  hell  in  its  fire  and  darkness,  and  hea¬ 
ven  in  its  light  and  brightness ;  and  these  here  serve 
as  foils  to  set  off  each  other.  It  is  not  here  said, 
that  the  votes  of  the  council  were  taken  upon  his 
case,  and  that  by  the  majority  he  was  found  guilty, 
and  then  condemned  and  ordered  to  be  stoned  to 
death,  according  to  the  law,  as  a  blasphemer ;  but, 
it  is  likely,  so  it  was,  and  that  it  was  not  by  the  vio¬ 
lence  of  the  people,  without  order  of  the  council, 
that  he  was  put  to  death  ;  fol-  here  is  the  usual  cere¬ 
mony  of  regular  executions — he  was  cast  out  of  the 
city,  and  the  hands  of  the  witnesses  were  first  upon 
him. 

Let  us  observe  here  the  wonderful  discomposure 
of  the  spirits  of  his  enemies  and  persecutors,  and 
the  wonderful  composure  of  his  spirit. 

I.  See  the  strength  of  corruption  in  the  persecu¬ 
tors  of  Stephen  ;  malice  in  perfection,  hell  itself 
broken  loose,  men  become  incarnate  devils,  and  the 
serpent’s  seed  spitting  their  venom ! 

].  When  they  heard  these  things,  they  were  cut  to 
the  heart,  (v.  54.)  Jirrptovro,  the  same  word  that  is 
used  Heb.  11.  37.  and  translated,  they  were  sawn 
asunder.  They  were  put  to  as  much  torture  in  their 
minds  as  ever  the  martyrs  were  put  to  in  their  bo¬ 
dies.  They  were  filled  with  indignation  at  the  un¬ 
answerable  arguments  that  Stephen  urged  for  their 


conviction,  and  that  they  could  find  nothing  to  say 
against  them.  They  were  not  pricked  to  the  heart 
with  sorrow,  as  those  were  ch.  2.  37.  but  cut  to  the 
heart  with  rage  and  fury,  as  they  themselves  were, 
ch.  5.  33.  Stephen  rebuked  them  sharply,  as  Paul 
expresses  it,  (Tit.  1.  13.)  <wro7s,uac — cuttingly ,  for 
they  were  cut  to  the  heart  by  the  reproof.  Note, 
Rejecters  of  the  gospel  and  opposers  of  it  are  really 
tormentors  to  themselves.  Enmity  to  God  is  a  heart¬ 
cutting  thing;  faith  and  love  are  heart-healing.  When 
they  heard  how  he  that  looked  like  an  angel  before 
he  began  his  discourse,  talked  like  an  angel,  like  a 
messenger  from  heaven,  before  he  had  done  it,  they 
were  like  a  wild  bull  in  a  net,  full  of  the  fury  of  the 
Lord,  (Isa.  51.  20.)  despairing  to  run  down  a  cause 
so  bravely  pleaded,  and  yet  resolved  not  to  yield 
to  it. 

2.  They  gnashed  upon  him  with  their  teeth  ;  this 
speaks,  (l.)  Great  malice  and  rage  against  him. 
Job  complained  of  his  enemy,  that  he  gnashed  upon 
him  with  his  teeth,  Job  16.  9.  The  language  of  this 
was,  0  that  we  had  of  his  flesh  to  eat  l  Job  31.  31. 
They  grinned  at  him,  as  dogs  at  those  they  are  en¬ 
raged  at;  and  therefore  Paul,  cautioning  against 
those  of  the  circumcision,  says,  Beware  of  dogs, 
Phil.  3.  2.  Enmity  at  the  saints  turns  men  into 
brute  beasts.  (2.)  Great  vexation  within  them¬ 
selves  ;  they  fretted  to  see  in  him  such  manifest  to¬ 
kens  of  a  divine  power  and  presence,  and  it  vexed 
them  to  the  heart.  The  wicked  shall  see  it,  and  be 

rieved,  he  shall  gnash  with  his  teeth  and  melt  away, 
s.  112.  10.  Gnashing  with  the  teeth  is  often  used 
to  express  the  horror  and  torments  of  the  damned. 
Those  that  have  the  malice  of  hell,  cannot  but  have 
with  it  some  of  the  pains  of  hell. 

3.  They  cried  out  with  a  loud  voice;  (v.  50.)  to 
irritate  and  excite  one  another,  and  to  drown  the 
noise  of  the  clamours  of  their  own  and  one  another’s 
consciences  :  when  he  said,  I  see  heaven  opened, 
they  cried  with  a  loud  voice,  that  he  might  not  be 
heard  to  speak.  Note,  It  is  very  common  for  a 
righteous  cause,  particularly  the  righteous  cause  of 
Christ’s  religion,  to  be  endeavoured  to  be  run  down 
by  noise  and  clamour ;  what  is  wanting  in  reason  is 
made  up  in  tumult,  and  the  cry  of  him  that  ruleth 
among  fools,  while  the  words  of  the  wise  are  heard 
in  c/uiet.  They  cried  with  a  loud  voice,  as  soldiers 
when  they  are  going  to  engage  in  battle,  mustering 
up  all  their  spirit  and  vigour  for  this  desperate  en¬ 
counter. 

4.  They  stop/ied  their  ears,  that  they  might  not 
hear  their  own  noisiness;  or  perhaps,  under  pre¬ 
tence  that  thev  could  not  bear  to  hear  his  blasphe¬ 
mies.  As  Caiaphas  rent  his  clothes  when  Christ 
said,  Hereafter  ye  shall  see  the  Son  of  man  coming 
in  glory,  (Matth.  26.  64,  65.)  so  these  here  stopped 
their  ears  when  Stephen  said,  I  now  see  the  Son  of 
man  standing  in  gloi~y  ;  both  pretending  that  what 
was  spoken  was  not  to  be  heard  with  patience. 
Their  stopping  their  ears  was,  (1.)  A  manifest  spe¬ 
cimen  of  their  wilful  obstinacy  ;  they  were  resolved 
they  would  not  hear  what  had  a  tendency  to  con¬ 
vince  them,  which  was  what  the  prophets  often 
complained  of ;  they  were  like  the  deaf  adder,  that 
will  not  hear  the  voice  of  the  charmer,  Ps.  58.  4,  5. 
(2.)  It  was  a  fatal  omen  of  that  judicial  hardness  to 
which  God  would  give  them  up.  They  stopped  their 
ears,  and  then  God,  in  a  wav  of  righteous  judgment, 
stopped  them.  That  was  the  work  that  was  now  in 
doing  with  the  unbelieving  Jews ;  Make  the  heart  of 
this  people  fat,  and  their  ears  heavy  ;  thus  was  Ste¬ 
phen’s  character  of  them  answered,  Ye  uncircum¬ 
cised  in  heart  and  ears. 

5.  They  ran  upon  him  with  one  accord ;  the  peo¬ 
ple  and  the  elders  of  the  people,  judges,  prosecu¬ 
tors,  witnesses,  and  spectators,  they  all  flew  upon 
him,  as  beasts  upon  their  prey.  See  how  violen* 


75 


THE  ACTS,  VII. 


they  were,  and  in  what  haste  ;  they  ran  upon  him, 
though  there  was  no  danger  of  his  out-running  them : 
and  see  how  unanimous  they  were  in  this  evil  thing ; 
they  ran  upon  him  with  one  accord ,  one  and  all, 
hoping  thereby  to  terrify  him,  and  put  him  into 
confusion  ;  envying  him  his  composure  and  comfort 
in  soul,  with  which  he  wonderfully  enjoyed  himself 
in  the  midst  of  this  hurry  ;  they  did  all  they  could 
to  ruffle  him. 

6.  They  cast  him  out  of  the  city,  and  stoned  him; 
as  if  he  were  not  worthy  to  live  in  Jerusalem  ;  nay 
not  worthy  to  live  in  this  world  ;  pretending  herein 
to  execute  the  law  of  Moses,  (Lev.  24.  16.)  He  that 
blasphemeth  the  name,  of  the  Lord,  shall  surely  be 
put  to  death,  all  the  congregation  shall  certainly 
stone  him.  And  thus  they  had  put  Christ  to  death, 
when  this  same  court  had  found  him  guilty  of  blas¬ 
phemy,  but  that,  for  his  greater  ignominy,  they 
were  desirous  that  he  should  be  crucified,  and  God 
over-ruled  it  for  the  fulfilling  of  the  scripture.  The 
fury  with  which  they  managed  the  execution,  is  in¬ 
timated  in  that  they  cast  him  out  of  the  city,  as  if 
they  could  not  bear  the  sight  of  him  ;  they  treated 
him  as  an  anathema,  as  the  off-scouring  of  all  things. 
The  witnesses  against  him  were  the  leaders  in  the 
execution,  according  to  the  law,  (Dent.  17.  7.)  The 
hands  of  the  witnesses  shall  be first  upon  him,  to  put 
him  to  death,  and  particularly  in  the  case  of  blas¬ 
phemy,  Lev.  24.  14.  Deut.  13.  9.  Thus  they  were 
to  confirm  their  testimony.  Now  the  stoning  of  a 
man  being  a  laborious  piece  of  work,  the  witnesses 
put  off  their  upper  garments,  that  they  might  not 
hang  in  their  way,  and  they  laid  them  down  at  a 
young  man’s  feet,  whose  name  was  Saul,  now  a 
pleased  spectator  of  this  tragedy  ;  it  is  the  first  time 
we  find  mention  of  his  name,  we  shall  know  it  and 
love  it  better  when  we  find  it  changed  to  Paul,  and 
him  changed  from  a  persecutor  into  a  preacher. 
This  little  instance  of  his  agency  in  Stephen’s  death 
he  afterward  reflected  upon  with  regret ;  {cli.  22. 
20.)  I  kep  t  the  raiment  of  them  that  slew  him. 

II.  See  the  strength  of  grace  in  Stephen,  and  the 
wonderful  instances  of  God’s  favour  to  him,  and 
working  in  him.  As  his  persecutors  were  full  of 
Satan,  so  was  he  full  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  fuller  than 
ordinary,  anointed  with  fresh  oil  for  the  combat, 
that,  as  the  day,  so  might  the  strength  be.  Upon 
this  account  they  are  blessed,  who  are  persecuted  for 
righteousness-sake ,  that  the  Spirit  of  God  and  of 
glory  rests  upon  them,  2  Pet.  4.  14.  When  he  was 
chosen  to  public  service,  he  was  described  to  be  a 
man  full  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  ( ch .  6.  5.)  and  now  that 
he  is  called  out  to  martyrdom,  he  has  still  the  same 
character.  Note,  They  that  are  full  of  the  Holy 
Ghost  are  fit  for  any  thing,  either  to  do  for  Christ, 
or  to  suffer  for  him.  And  those  whom  God  calls  out 
to  hard  services  for  his  name,  he  will  qualify  for 
those  services,  and  carry  comfortably  through  them, 
by  filling  them  with  the  Holy  Ghost  ;  that  as  their 
afflictions  for  Christ  do  abound,  their  consolation  in 
him  may  yet  more  abound,  and  then  none  of  these 
things  move  them. 

Now  here  we  have  a  remarkable  communion  be¬ 
tween  this  blessed  martyr  and  the  blessed  Jesus  in 
this  critical  moment.  When  the  followers  of  Christ 
are  for  his  sake  killed  all  the  day  long,  and  account¬ 
ed  as  sheep  for  the  slaughter;  does  that  separate 
them  from  the  love  of  Christ  ?  Does  he  love  them 
the  less  ?  Do  they  love  him  the  less  ?  No,  by  no 
means ;  and  so  it  appears  by  this  story  :  in  which 
we  may  observe, 

1.  Christ’s  gracious  manifestation  of  himself  to 
Stephen,  both  for  his  comfort  and  for  his  honour,  in 
the  midst  of  his  sufferings  ;  when  they  were  cut  to 
the  heart,  and  gnashed  upon  him  with  their  teeth, 
ready  to  eat  him  up,  then  he  had  a  view  of  the  glo¬ 
ry  of  Christ,  sufficient  to  fill  him  with  joy  unspeaka¬ 


ble  ;  which  was  intended  not  only  for  his  encourage¬ 
ment,  but  for  the  support  and  comfort  of  all  God’s 
suffering  servants  in  all  ages. 

(1.)  He,  being  full  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  looked  up 
steadfastly  into  heaven,  v.  55.  [1.]  Thus  he  looked 

above  the  power  and  fury  of  his  persecutors,  and 
did  as  it  were  despise  them,  and  laugh  them  to  scorn, 
as  the  daughter  of  Zion,  Isa.  37.  22.  They  had 
their  eyes  fixed  upon  him,  full  of  malice  and  cruel¬ 
ty  ;  but  he  looked  up  to  heaven,  and  never  minded 
them  ;  was  so  taken  up  with  the  eternal  life  now  in 
prospect,  that  he  seemed  to  have  no  manner  of  con¬ 
cern  for  the  natural  life  now  at  stake.  Instead  of 
looking  about  him,  to  see  either  which  way  he  was 
in  danger,  or  which  way  he  might  make  his  escape, 
he  looks  up  to  heaven  ,;  thence  only  comes  his  help, 
and  thitherward  his  way  is  still  open  :  though  they 
compass  him  about  on  every  side,  they  cannot  inter¬ 
rupt  his  intercourse  with  heaven.  Note,  A  believ¬ 
ing  regard  to  God  and  the  upper  world,  will  be  of 
great  use  to  us,  to  set  us  above  the  fear  of  man  ;  for 
as  far  as  we  are  under  the  influence  of  that  fear  we 
forget  the  Lord  our  Maker,  Isa.  51.  13.  [2.]  Thus 
he  directed  his  sufferings  to  the  glory  of  God,  to  the 
honour  of  Christ,  and  did  as  it  were  appeal  to  hea¬ 
ven  concerning  them  ;  Lord,  for  thy  sake  I  suffer 
this ;  and  express  his  earnest  expectation  that 
Christ  should  be  magnified  in  his  body.  Now  that 
he  was  ready  to  be  offered,  he  looks  up  steadfastly 
to  heaven,  as  one  willing  to  offer  himself.  [3.  ]  Thus 
he  lifted  up  his  soul  with  his  eyes  to  God  in  the  hea¬ 
vens,  in  pious  ejaculations,  calling  upon  God  for 
wisdom  and  grace  to  carry  him  through  this  trial  in 
a  right  manner.  God  has  promised  that  he  will  be 
with  his  servants  whom  he  calls  out  to  suffer  for 
him  ;  but  he  will  for  this  be  sought  unto.  He  is 
nigh  unto  them,  but  it  is  in  that  which  they  call  upon 
him  for.  Is  any  afflicted?  Let  him  pray .  [4.]  Thus 
he  breathed  after  the  heavenly  country,  to  which 
he  saw  the  fury  of  his  persecutors  would  presently 
send  him.  It  is  good  for  dying  saints  to  look  up 
steadfastly  to  heaven  ;  “Yonder  is  the  place  whither 
death  will  carry  my  better  part,  and  then,  0  death, 
where  is  thy  sting!”  [5.]  Thus  he  made  it  to  ap¬ 
pear  that  he  was  full  of  the  Holy  Ghost ;  for, 
wherever  the  Spirit  of  grace  dwells  and  works  and 
reigns,  he  directs  the  eye  of  the  soul  upward.  Those 
that  are  full  of  the  Holy  Ghost  will  look  up  stead¬ 
fastly  to  heaven,  for  there  their  heart  is.  [6.  ]  Thus 
he  put  himself  into  a  posture  to  receive  the  following 
manifestation  of  the  divine  glory  and  grace.  If  we 
expect  to  hear  from  heaven,  we  must  look  up  stead¬ 
fastly  to  heaven. 

(2.)  He  saw  the  glory  of  God  ;  ( v .  55.)  for  he  saw, 
in  order  to  that,  the  heavens  opened,  v.  50.  Some 
think  his  eyes  were  strengthened  and  the  sight  of 
them  so  raised  above  its  natural  pitch,  by  a  super¬ 
natural  power,  that  he  saw  into  the  third  heavens, 
though  at  so  vast  a  distance  ;  as  Moses’s  sight  was 
enlarged  to  see  the  whole  land  of  Canaan.  Others 
think  it  was  a  representation  of  the  glory  of  God  set 
before  his  eyes,  as  before  Isaiah  and  Ezekiel ;  hea¬ 
ven  did  as  it  were  come  down  to  him,  as  Rev.  21.  2. 
The  heavens  were  opened,  to  give  him  a  view  of 
the  happiness  he  was  going  to,  that  he  might,  in 
prospect  of  that,  go  cheerfully  through  death,  so 
great  a  death.  Would  we  by  faith  look  up  stead¬ 
fastly,  we  might  see  the  heavens  opened  by  the  me¬ 
diation  of  Christ,  the  vail  being  rent,  and  a  new  and 
living  way  laid  open  for  us  into  the  holiest.  The 
heaven  is  opened  for  the  settling  of  a  correspondence 
between  God  and  men,  that  his  favours  and  bless¬ 
ings  may  come  down  to  us,  and  our  prayers  and 
praises  may  go  up  to  him.  We  may  also  see  the 
glory  of  God,  as  far  as  he  has  revealed  it  in  his 
word  ;  and  the  sight  of  this  will  carry  us  through 
all  the  terrors  of  sufferings  and  death. 


70  THE  ACTS,  VI 1. 


(5.)  He  saw  Jesus  standing  on  the  right  hand  of 
God  ;  (v.  55.)  the  Son  of  man,  so  it  is,  v.  56.  Je¬ 
sus,  being  the  Son  of  man,  having  taken  our  nature 
with  him  to  heaven,  and  being  there  clothed  with  a 
body,  might  be  seen  with  bodilv  eyes,  and  so  Ste¬ 
phen  saw  him.  When  the  Old  Testament  prophets 
saw  the  glory  of  God,  it  was  attended  with  angels. 
The  Shechinah  or  divine  presence  in  Isaiah’s  vision 
^as  attended  with  Seraphim  ;  in  Ezekiel’s  vision 
with  Cherubim  ;  both  signifying  the  angels,  the 
ministers  of  God’s  providence.  But  here  no  men¬ 
tion  is  made  of  the  angels,  though  they  surround  the 
throne  and  the  Lamb  ;  instead  of  them  Stephen  sees 
Jesus  at  the  right  hand  of  God,  the  great  Mediator 
of  God’s  grace,  from  whom  more  glory  redounds  to 
God  than  from  all  the  ministration  of  the  holy  an¬ 
gels.  The  glory  of  God  shines  brightest  in  the  face 
of  Jesus  Christ ;  for  there  shines  the  glory  of  his 
grace,  which  is  the  most  illustrious  instance  of  his 
glory.  God  appears  more  glorious  with  Jesus  stand¬ 
ing  at  his  right  hand,  than  with  millions  of  angels 
about  him.  Now,  [1.]  Here  is  a  proof  of  the  exal¬ 
tation  of  Christ  to  the  Father’s  right  hand  ;  the 
apostles  saw  him  ascend,  but  they  did  not  see  him 
sit  down,  a  cloud  received  him  out  of  their  sight.  We 
are  told  that  he  sat  down  on  the  right  hand  of  God  ; 
but  was  he  ever  seen  there  ?  Yes,  Stephen  saw  him 
there,  and  was  abundantly  satisfied  with  the  sight. 
He  saw  Jesus  at  the  right  hand  of  God,  noting  both 
his  transcendent  dignity,  and  his  sovereign  dominion, 
his  uncontrollable  ability,  and  his  universal  agency; 
whatever  God’s  right  hand  either  gives  to  us,  or  re¬ 
ceives  from  us,  or  does  concerning  us,  it  is  by  him  ; 
for  he  is  his  right  Hand.  [2.]  He  is  usually  said  to 
sit  there  ;  but  Stephen  sees  him  standing  there,  as 
one  more  than  ordinarily  concerned  at  present  for 
his  suffering  servant  ;  he  stood  up  as  a  Judge  to 
plead  his  cause  against  his  persecutors  ;  he  is  raised 
up.  nut  of  his  holy  habitation,  (Zech.  2.  13.)  comes 
out'  of  his  place  to  punish,  Isa.  26.  21.  He  stands 
ready  to  receive  him  and  crown  him,  and  in  the 
mean  time  to  give  him  a  prospect  of  the  joy  set  be¬ 
fore  him.  [3.]  This  was  intended  for  the  encou¬ 
ragement  of  Stephen  ;  he  sees  Christ  is  for  him,  and 
then  no  matter  who  is  against  him.  When  our  Lord 
Jesus  was  in  his  agony,  an  angel  appeared  to  him, 
strengthening  him  ;  but  Stephen  had  Christ  himself 
appearing  to  him.  Note,  Nothing  so  comfortable 
to  dying  saints,  nor  so  animating  to  suffering  saints, 
as  to  see  Jesus  at  the  right  hand  of  God  ;  and,  bless¬ 
ed  be  God,  by  faith  we  may  see  him  there. 

(4. )  He  told  those  about  him  what  he  saw  ;  (v. 
56.)  Behold,  I  see  the  heavens  opened.  That  which 
was  a  cordial  to  him,  ought  to  have  been  a  convic¬ 
tion  to  them,  and  a  caution  to  them  to  take  heed  of 
proceeding  against  one  whom  Heaven  thus  smiled 
upon  ;  and  therefore  what  he  saw  he  declared,  let 
them  make  what  use  they  pleased  of  it.  If  some 
were  exasperated  by  it,  others  perhaps  might  be 
wrought  upon  to  consider  this  Jesus  whom  they  per¬ 
secuted,  and  to  believe  in  him. 

2.  His  pious  addresses  to  Jesus  Christ ;  the  mani¬ 
festation  of  God’s  glory  to  him  did  not  set  him  above 
praying,  but  rather  set  him  upon  it ;  They  stoned 
Stephen,  calling  upon  God,  v.  59.  Though  he 
called  upon  God,  and  by  that  shewed  himself  to  be 
a  true-born  Israelite,  yet  they  proceeded  to  stone 
him,  not  considering  how  dangerous  it  is  to  fight 
against  those  that  have  an  interest  in  Heaven. 
Though  they  stoned  him,  yet  he  called  upon  God  ; 
nay,  therefore  he  called  upon  him.  Note,  It  is  the 
comfort  of  those  who  are  unjustly  hated  and  perse¬ 
cuted  by  men,  that  they  have  a  God  to  go  to,  a  God 
all-sufficient  to  call  upon.  Men  stop  their  ears,  as 
they  did  here  ;  (v.  57. )  but  God  does  not.  Stephen 
was  now  cast  out  of  the  city,  but  he  was  not  cast  out 
from  his  God.  He  was  now  taking  his  leave  of  the 


world,  and  therefore  calls  upon  God  ;  for  we  must 
do  that  as  long  as  we  live.  Note,  It  is  good  to  die 
praying  ;  then  we  need  help — strength  we  never 
|  had,  to  do  a  work  we  never  did  ;  and  how  must  we 
fetch  in  that  help  and  strength  but  by  prayer  ? 

Two  short  prayers  Stephen  offered  up  to  God  in 
his  dying  moments,  and  in  them  as  it  were  breathed 
out  his  soul. 

(1.)  Here  is  a  prayer  for  himself;  Lord  Jesus, 
receive  my  spirit.  Thus  Christ  had  himself  resigned 
his  Spirit  immediately  into  the  hand  of  the  Father. 
We  are  here  taught  to  resign  ours  into  the  hands  of 
Christ  as  Mediator,  by  him  to  be  recommended  to 
the  Father.  Stephen  saw  Jesus  standing  at  the  Fa¬ 
ther’s  right  hand,  and  he  thus  calls  to  him,  “  Blessed 
Jesus,  do  that  for  me  now,  which  thou  standest  there 
to  do  for  all  thine,  receive  my  departing  spirit  into 
thy  hand.”  Observe, 

[1.]  The  soul  is  the  man,  and  our  great  concern, 
living  and  dying,  must  be  about  our  souls.  Stephen’s 
body  was  to  be  miserably  broken,  and  shattered, 
and  overwhelmed  with  a  shower  of  stones,  the 
earthly  house  of  this  tabernacle  violently  beaten 
down  and  abused  ;  but,  however  it  goes  with  that, 
“  Lord,”  saith  he,  “  let  my  spirit  be  safe  ;  let  it  go 
well  with  my  poor  soul.”  Thus  while  we  live,  our 
care  should  be,  that  though  the  body  be  starved  or 
stripped,  the  soul  may  be  fed  and  clothed  ;  though 
the  body  lie  in  pain,  the  soul  may  dwell  at  ease  ;  and 
when  we  die,  that  though  the  body  be  thrown  by  as 
a  despised  broken  vessel,  and  a  vessel  in  which 
there  is  no  pleasure,  yet  the  soul  may  be  presented 
a  vessel  of  honour  ;  that  God  may  be  the  strength 
of  the  heart  and  its  Portion,  though  the  flesh  fail. 

[2.  ]  Our  Lord  Jesus  is  God,  to  whom  we  are  to 
seek,  and  in  whom  we  are  to'  confide  and  comfort 
ourselves  living  and  dying.  Stephen  here  prays  to 
Christ,  and  so  must  we  ;  for  it  is  the  will  of  God 
that  all  men  should  thus  honour  the  Son,  even  as 
they  honour  the  Father.  It  is  Christ  we  are  to  com¬ 
mit  ourselves  to,  who  alone  is  able  to  keep  what  we 
commit  to  him  against  that  day  :  it  is  necessary  that 
we  have  an  eye  to  Christ  when  we  come  to  die,  for 
there  is  no  venturing  into  another  world  but  under 
his  conduct ;  no  living  comforts  in  dying  moments, 
but  what  are  fetched  from  him. 

[3.]  Christ’s  receiving  our  spirits  at  death,  is  the 
great  thing  we  are  to  be  careful  about,  and  to  com¬ 
fort  ourselves  with.  We  ought  to  be  in  care  about 
this  while  we  live,  that  Christ  may  receive  our  spi¬ 
rits  when  we  die  ;  for  if  he  reject  and  disown  them, 
whither  will  they  betake  themselves?  How  car. 
they  escape  being  a  prey  to  the  roaring  lion  ?  To 
him  therefore  we  must  commit  them  daily,  to  be 
ruled  and  sanctified,  and  made  meet  for  heaven,  and 
then,  and  not  otherwise,  he  will  receive  them.  And 
if  this  has  been  our  care  while  we  live,  it  may  be  our 
comfort  when  we  come  to  die,  that  we  shall  be  re¬ 
ceived  into  everlasting  habitations. 

(2.)  Here  is  a  prayer  for  his  persecutors,  v.  60. 

[1.]  The  circumstances  of  this  prayer  are  ob¬ 
servable,  for  it  seems  to  have  been  offered  up  with 
something  more  of  solemnity  than  the  former.  First, 
He  kneeled  down  ;  which  was  an  expression  of  his 
humility  in  prayer.  Secondly,  He  cried  with  a  loud 
voice  ;  which  was  an  expression  of  his  importunity. 
But  why  should  he  thus  shew  more  humility  and  im¬ 
portunity  in  this  request  than  in  the  former  ?  The 
answer  is  this,  None  could  doubt  of  his  being  in  good 
earnest  in  his  prayers  for  himself,  and  therefore 
there  he  needed  not  to  use  such  outward  expressions 
of  it ;  but  in  his  prayer  for  his  enemies,  because  that 
is  so  much  against  the  grain  of  corrupt  nature,  it 
was  requisite  he  should  give  proofs  of  his  being  in 
earnest. 

[2.]  The  prayer 'itself ;  J.ord,  lay  not  this  sin  to 
their  charge ;  therein  he  followed  the  example  of 


77 


THE  ACTS,  VIII. 


his  dying  Master,  who  prayed  thus  for  his  persecu¬ 
tors,  Father ,  forgive  them ;  and  set  an  example  to 
all  following  sufferers  in  the  cause  of  Christ,  thus  to 
pray  for  those  that  persecute  them.  Prayer  may 
preach  ;  this  did  so  to  those  who  stoned  Stephen  ; 
and  therefore  he  kneeled  down,  that  they  might  take  j 
notice  he  was  going  to  pray,  and  cried  with  a  loud 
voice,  that  they  might  take  notice  of  what  he  said, 
and  might  learn,  First,  That  what  they  did  was  a 
sin,  a  great  sin,  which,  if  divine  mercy  and  grace 
did  not  prevent,  would  be  laid  to  their  charge,  to 
their  everlasting  confusion.  Secondly,  That,  not¬ 
withstanding  their  malice  and  fury  against  him,  he 
was  in  chanty  with  them,  and  was  so  far  from  de¬ 
siring  that  God  would  avenge  his  death  upon  them, 
that  it  was  his  hearty  prayer  to  God,  that  it  might 
not  in  any  degree  be  laid  to  their  charge.  A  sad 
reckoning  there  would  be  for  it ;  if  they  did  not  re¬ 
pent,  it  would  certainly  be  laid  to  their  charge  ;  but 
he,  for  his  part,  did  not  desire  the  woful  day.  Let 
them  take  notice  of  this,  and  when  their  thoughts 
were  cool,  surely  they  would  not  easily  forgive  them¬ 
selves  putting  him  to  death,  who  could  so  easily  for¬ 
give  them.  The  blood-thirsty  hate  the  upright,  but 
the  just  seek  his  soul,  Prov.  29.  10.  Thirdly,  That, 
though  the  sin  was  very  heinous,  yet  they  must  not 
despair  of  the  pardon  of  it,  upon  their  repentance. 
If  they  would  lay  it  to  their  hearts,  God  would  not 
lay  it  to  their  charge.  “Do  you  think,  saith  St.' 
Austin,  that  Paul  heard  Stephen  pray  this  prayer  ? 
It  is  likely  he  did,  saith  he,  and  ridiculed  it  then  ; 

( audivit  subsannans,  sed  irrisit — he  heard  with 
scorn  ;)  but  afterward  he  had  the  benefit  of  it,  and 
fared  the  better  for  it.” 

3.  His  expiring  with  this  ;  When  he  had  said  this, 
he  fell  asleep  ;  or,  as  he  was  saying  this,  the  blow 
came,  that  was  mortal.  Note,  Death  is  but  a  sleep 
to  good  people  ;  not  the  sleep  of  the  soul,  (Stephen 
had  given  that  up  into  Christ’s  hand,)  but  the  sleep 
of  the  body ;  it  is  its  rest  from  all  its  griefs  and  toils, 
it  is  perfect  ease  and  indolence.  Stephen  died  as 
much  in  a  hurry  as  ever  any  man  did,  and  yet,  when 
he  died,  he  fell  asleep  ;  he  applied  himself  to  his 
dying  work  with  as  much  composure  of  mind  as  if  he 
had  been  going  to  sleep  ;  it  was  but  closing  his  eyes, 
and  dying.  Observe,  He  fell  asleep  when  he  was 
praying  for  his  persecutors  ;  it  is  expressed  as  if  he 
thought  he  could  not  die  in  peace  till  he  had  done 
that.  It  contributes  very  much  to  our  dying  com¬ 
fortably,  to  die  in  charity  with  all  men  ;  we  are  then 
found  of  Christ  in  peace  ;  let  not  the  sun  of  life  go 
down  upon  our  wrath.  He  fell  asleep  ;  the  vulgar 
Latin  adds,  in  the  Lord;  in  the  embraces  of  his 
love.  If  he  thus  sleep,  he  shall  do  well ;  he  shall 
awake  again  in  the  morning  of  the  resurrection. 

CHAP.  VIII. 

In  this  chapter,  we  have  an  account  ofthe  persecutions  of  the 
Christians,  and  the  propagating  of  Christianity  thereby.  It 
was  strange,  but  very  true,  that  the  disciples  of  Christ,  the 
more  they  were  afflicted  the  more  they  multiplied.  I.  Here 
is  the  church  suffering ;  upon  the  occasion  of  putting  Ste¬ 
phen  to  death,  a  very  sharp  storm  arose,  which  forced  many 
from  Jerusalem,  v.  1  . .  3.  II.  Here  is  the  church  spreading 
by  the  ministry  of  Philip  and  others,  that  were  dispersed 
upon  that  occasion.  We  have  here,  1.  The  gospel  brought 
to  Samaria;  preached  there;  (v.  4,  5.)  embraced  there, 
(v.  6. .  8.)  even  by  Simon  Magus;  (v.  9. .  13.)  the  gift  of 
the  Holy  Ghost  conferred  upon  some  of  the  believing  Sa¬ 
maritans  by  the  imposition  of  the  hands  of  Peter  and  John ; 
(v.  14  . .  17!)  and  the  severe  rebuke  given  bv  Peter  to  Simon 
Magus  for  bidding  money  for  a  power  to  bestow  that  gift, 
v.  18. .  25.  2.  The  gospel  sent  to  Ethiopia,  by  the  Eunuch, 

a  person  of  quality  of  that  country  ;  he  is  returning  home 
in  his  chariot  from  Jerusalem,  v.  26 .  .  28.  Philip  is  sent  to 
him,  and  in  his  chariot  preaches  Christ  to  him,  (v.  29  . .  35. ) 
baptizes  him  upon  his  profession  of  the  Christian  faith,  (v. 
36  . .  38.)  and  then  leaves  him,  v.  39,  40.  Thus  in  different 
ways  and  methods  the  gospel  Was  dispersed  among  the 
nations,  and,  one  way  or  other,  Have  they  not  all  heard  ? 


1.  A  ND  Saul  was  consenting  unto  his 
death.  And  at  that  time  there 
was  a  great  persecution  against  the  church 
which  was  at  Jerusalem ;  and  they  were 
all  scattered  abroad  throughout  the  regions 
of  Judea  and  Samaria,  except  the  apos¬ 
tles.  2.  And  devout  men  carried  Stephen 
to  his  burial,  and  made  great  lamentation 
over  him.  3.  As  for  Saul,  he  made  havock 
of  the  church,  entering  into  every  house, 
and  haling  men  and  women,  committed 
them  to  prison. 

In  these  verses,  we  have, 

I.  Something  more  concerning  Stephen  and  his 
death ;  how  people  stood  affected  to  it  ;  variously, 
as  generally  in  such  cases,  according  to  men’s  differ¬ 
ent  sentiments  of  things.  Christ  had  told  his  dis¬ 
ciples,  when  he  was  parting  with  them,  (John  16. 
20.)  Ye  shall  weep  and  lament,  but  the  world  shall 
rejoice.  Accordingly  here  is, 

1.  Stephen’s  death  rejoiced  in  by  one  ;  by  many, 
no  doubt,  but  by  one  in  particular,  and  that  was 
Saul,  who  was  afterward  called  Paul ;  he  was  con¬ 
senting  to  his  death,  cvnuScx.lv — he  consented  to  it 
with  delight  ;  so  the  word  signifies  ;  he  was  pleased 
with  it,  he  fed  his  eyes  with  this  bloody  spectacle, 
in  hopes  it  would  put  a  stop  to  the  growth  of  Chris¬ 
tianity.  We  have  reason  to  think  that  Paul  ordered 
Luke  to  insert  this,  for  shame  to  himself,  and  glory 
to  free  grace.  Thus  he  owns  himself  guilty  of  the 
blood  of  Stephen,  and  aggravates  it  with  this,  that 
he  did  not  do  it  with  regret  and  reluctancy,  but  with 
delight  and  a  full  satisfaction  ;  like  those  who  not 
only  do  such  things,  but  have  pleasure  in  them  that 
do  them. 

2.  Stephen’s  death  bewailed  by  others;  (v.  2.) 
Devout  men,  which  some  understand  of  those  that 
were  properly  so  called,  proselytes,  one  of  whom 
Stephen  himself,  probably,  was.  Or,  it  may  be 
taken  more  largely  ;  some  of  the  church  that  were 
more  devout  and  zealous  than  the  rest,  went,  and 
gathered  up  the  poor  crushed  and  broken  remains, 
to  which  they  gave  a  decent  interment ;  probably 
in  the  field  of  blood,  which  was  bought  some  time 
ago  to  bury  strangers  in.  They  buried  him  solemnly, 
and  made  great  lamentation  over  him.  Though  his 
death  was  of  great  advantage  to  himself,  and  great 
service  to  the  church,  yet  they  bewailed  it  as  a  ge¬ 
neral  loss,  so  well  qualified  was  he  for  the  service, 
and  so  likely  to  be  useful  both  as  a  deacon  and  as  a 
disputant.  It  is  an  ill  symptom,  if,  when  such  men 
are  taken  away,  it  is  net  laid  to  heart.  Those  de¬ 
vout  men  paid  these  their  last  respects  to  Stephen, 
(1.)  To  shew  that  they  were  not  ashamed  of  the 
cause  for  which  he  suffered,  nor  ashamed  of  the 
wrath  of  those  that  were  enemies  to  it ;  for,  though 
they  now  triumph,  the  cause  is  a  righteous  cause, 
and  will  be  at  last  a  victorious  one.  (2.)  To  shew 
the  great  value  and  esteem  they  had  for  this  faithful 
servant  of  Jesus  Christ,  this  first  martyr  for  the  gos¬ 
pel,  whose  memory  shall  always  be  precious  to  them, 
notwithstanding  the  ignominy  of  his  death.  They 
study  to  do  honour  to  him,  whom  God  put  honour 
upon.  (3.)  To  testify  their  belief  and  hope  of  the 
resurrection  of  the  dead,  and  the  life  of  the  world  to 
come. 

II.  An  account  of  this  persecution  of  the  church, 
which  begins  upon  the  martyrdom  of  Stephen. 
When  the  fury  of  the  Jews  ran  with  such  violence, 
and  to  such  a  height,  against  Stephen,  it  could  not 
quickly  either  stop  itself,  or  spend  itself.  The 
bloodv  are  often  in  scripture  called  blood-thirsty ; 
for  when  they  have  tasted  blood  they  thirst  for 


78 


THE  ACTS,  VIII. 


more.  One  would  have  thought  Stephen’s  dying 
prayers  and  dying  comforts  should  have  overcome 
them,  and  melted  them  into  a  better  opinion  of  Chris¬ 
tians  and  Christianity ;  but  it  seems  it  did  not,  the 
persecution  goes  on  ;  for,  1.  They  were  more  ex¬ 
asperated,  when  they  saw  they  could  prevail  no¬ 
thing  ;  and,  as  if  they  hoped  to  be  too  hard  for  God 
himself,  they  resolve  to  follow  their  blow  ;  and  per¬ 
haps,  because  they  were  none  of  them  struck  dead 
upon  the  place  for  stoning  Stephen,  their  hearts 
were  the  more  fully  set  in  them  to  do  evil.  2.  Per¬ 
haps  the  disciples  were  the  more  imboldened  to  dis¬ 
pute  against  them  as  Stephen  did,  seeing  how  trium¬ 
phantly  he  finished  his  course,  which  would  provoke 
them  so  much  the  more.  Observe, 

(1.)  Against  whom  this  persecution  was  raised  ; 
it  was  against  the  church  in  Jerusalem,  which  is  no 
sooner  planted  than  it  is  persecuted  ;  as  Christ  often 
intimated  that  tribulation  and  persecution  would 
arise  because  of  the  word.  And  Christ  had  parti¬ 
cularly  foretold  that  Jerusalem  would  soon  be  made 
too  hot  for  his  followers,  for  that  city  had  been  fa¬ 
mous  for  killing  the  prophets,  and  stoning  them  that 
were  sent  to  it,  Matt.  23.  37.  It  should  seem  that 
in  this  persecution  many  were  put  to  death,  for  Paul 
owns  that  at  this  time  he  persecuted  this  way  unto 
the  death,  {ch.  22.  4.)  and  {ch.  26.  10.)  that  when 
they  were  put  to  death  he  gave  his  voice  against 
them. 

(2. )  Who  was  an  active  man  in  it ;  none  so  zealous, 
so  busy,  as  Saul,  a  young  Pharisee,  v.  3.  As  for 
Saul,  (who  had  been  twice  mentioned  before,  and 
now  again  for  a  notorious  persecutor,)  he  made  ha¬ 
voc k  of  the  church  ;  he  did  all  he  could  to  lay  it 
waste  and  ruin  it ;  he  cared  not  what  mischief  he 
did  to  the  disciples  of  Christ,  nor  knew  when  to  take 
up.  He  aimed  at  no  less  than  the  cutting  off  the 
Gospel-Israel,  that  the  name  of  it  should  be  no  more 
in  remembrance,  Ps.  83.  4.  He  was  the  fittest  tool 
the  chief  priests  could  find  out  to  serve  their  pur¬ 
poses  ;  he  was  informer-general  against  the  disciples, 
a  messenger  of  the  great  council  to  be  employed  in 
searching  for  meetings,  and  seizing  all  that  were 
suspected  to  favour  that  way.  Saul  was  bred  a 
scholar,  a  gentleman,  and  yet  did  not  think  it  below 
him  to  be  employed  in  the  vilest  work  of  that  kind. 
[1.]  He  entered  into  every  house,  making  no  diffi¬ 
culty  of  breaking  open  doors,  night  or  day,  and  hav¬ 
ing  a  force  attending  him  for  that  purpose.  He 
entered  into  every  house  wherej  they  used  to  keep 
their  meetings,  or  every  house  that  had  any  Christians 
in  it,  or  was  thought  to  have.  No  man  could  be  se¬ 
cure  in  his  own  house,  though  it  is  his  castle.  [2.] 
He  haled,  with  the  utmost  contempt  and  cruelty, 
both  men  and  women,  dragged  them  along  the 
streets,  without  any  regard  to  the  tenderness  of  the 
weaker  sex  ;  he  stooped  so  low  as  to  take  cognizance 
of  the  meanest  that  were  leavened  with  the  gospel, 
so  extremely  bigoted  was  he.  [3.]  He  committed 
them  to  prison,  in  order  to  their  being  tried  and  put 
to  death,  unless  they  would  renounce  Christ ;  and 
some,  we  find,  were  compelled  bv  him  to  blaspheme, 
ch.  26.  11. 

(3.)  What  was  the  effect  of  this  persecution. 

Thev  were  all  scattered  abroad;  { v .  1.)  not  all 
the  believers,  but  all  the  preachers  ;  who  were  prin¬ 
cipally  struck  at,  and  against  whom  warrants  were 
issued  out  to  take  them  up.  They,  remembering 
our  Master’s  rule,  (  IVhen  they  persecute  you  in  one 
city,  Jlce  to  another, )  dispersed  themselves  by  agree¬ 
ment  throughout  the  regions  of  Judea,  and  of  Sama¬ 
ria  ;  not  so  much  for  fear  of  sufferings,  (for  Judea 
and  Samaria  were  not  so  far  off  from  Jerusalem  but 
that,  if  they  made  a  public  appearance  there,  as 
they  determined  to  do,  their  persecutors’  power 
would  soon  reach  them  there,)  but  because  they 
looked  upon  this  as  an  intimation  of  Providence  to 


them  to  scatter ;  their  work  was  pretty  well  done 
in  Jerusalem,  and  now  it  was  time  to  think  of  the 
necessities  of  other  places  :  for  their  Master  had 
told  them  that  they  must  be  his  witnesses  in  Jeru¬ 
salem  first,  and  then  in  all  Judea  and  in  Samaria, 
and  then  to  the  uttermost  parts  of  the  earth,  ( ch . 
1.  8.)  and  that  method  they  observe.  Though  per¬ 
secution  may  not  drive  us  off  from  our  work,  yet  it 
may  send  us,  as  a  hint  of  Providence,  to  work  "else¬ 
where. 

The  preachers  were  all  scattered  except  the  apos¬ 
tles,  who,  probably,  were  directed  by  the  Spirit  to 
continue  at  Jerusalem  yet  for  some  time,  they  being, 
by  the  special  providence  of  God,  screened  from 
the  storm,  and  by  the  special  grace  of  God  enabled 
to  face  the  storm.  They  tarried  at  Jerusalem,  that 
they  might  be  ready  to  go  where  their  assistance 
was  most  needed  by  the  other  preachers  that  were 
sent  to  break  the  ice  ;  as  Christ  ordered  his  disciples 
to  go  to  those  places  where  he  himself  designed  to 
come,  Luke  10.  1.  The  apostles  continued  longer 
together  at  Jerusalem  than  one  would  have  thought, 
considering  the  command  and  commission  given 
them,  to  go  into  all  the  world,  and  to  disciple  all  na¬ 
tions  ;  see  ch.  15.  6.  Gal.  1.  17.  But  what  was  done 
by  the  evangelists  whom  they  sent  forth,  was  reck¬ 
oned  as  done  by  them. 

4.  Therefore  they  that  were  scattered 
abroad,  went  every  where  preaching  the 
word.  5.  Then  Philip  went  down  to  the 
city  of  Samaria,  and  preached  Christ  unto 
them.  6.  And  the  people  with  one  accord 
gave  heed  unto  those  things  which  Philip 
spake,  hearing  and  seeing  the  miracles 
which  he  did.  7.  For  unclean  spirits,  cry¬ 
ing  with  a  loud  voice,  came  out  of  many 
that  were  possessed  with  them :  and  many 
taken  with  palsies,  and  that  were  lame, 
were  healed.  8.  And  there  was  great  joy 
in  that  city.  9.  But  there  was  a  certain 
man  called  Simon,  which  before-time  in 
the  same  city  used  sorcery,  and  bewitched 
the  people  of  Samaria,  giving  out  that  him¬ 
self  was  some  great  one.  10.  To  whom 
they  all  gave  heed  from  the  least  to  the 
greatest,  saying,  This  man  is  the  great 
power  of  God.  1 1.  And  to  him  they  had 
regard,  because  that  of  long  time  he  had 
bewitched  them  with  sorceries.  12.  But 
when  they  believed  Philip,  preaching  the 
things  concerning  the  kingdom  of  God,  and 
the  name  of  Jesus  Christ,  they  were  bap¬ 
tized  both  men  and  women.  13.  Then 
Simon  himself  believed  also;  and  when  he 
was  baptized,  he  continued  with  Philip,  and 
wondered,  beholding  the  miracles  and  signs 
which  were  done.  . 

Samson’s  riddle  is  here  again  unriddled  ;  Out  of  the 
eater  comes  forth  meat,  and  out  of  the  strong  sweet¬ 
ness.  The  persecution  that  was  designed  to  extirpate 
the  church,  was  by  the  overruling  providence  of  God 
made  an  occasion  of  the  enlargement  of  it.  Christ 
had  said,  I  am  come  to  send  fire  on  the  earth  ;  and 
they  thought,  by  scattering  those  who  were  kindled 
with  that  fire,  to  have  put  it  out,  but  instead  of  that 
they  did  but  help  to  spread  it. 

I.  Here  is  a  general  account  of  what  was  done  bv 


79 


THE  ACTS,  VIII. 


them  all ;  (v,  4.)  They  went  every  where ,  preach¬ 
ing  the  word.  1  hey  did  not  go  to  hide  themselves 
for  fear  of  suffering,  no  nor  to  shew  themselves  as 
proud  of  their  sufferings  ;  but  they  went  up  and 
down,  to  scatter  the  knowledge  of  Christ  in  every 
place  where  they  were  scattered.  They  went  every 
where,  into  the  way  of  the  Gentiles ,  and  the  cities 
of  the  Samaritans,  which  before  they  were  forbidden 
to  go  into,  ch.  10.  5.  They  did  not  keep  together  in 
a  body,  though  that  might  have  been  a  strength  to 
them,  but  they  scattered  into  all  parts  ;  not  to  take 
their  ease,  but  to  find  out  work.  They  went  evan¬ 
gelizing  the  world,  preaching  the  word  of  the  gospel; 
that  was  it  which  filled  them,  and  which  they  en¬ 
deavoured  to  fill  the  country  with,  those  of  them 
that  were  preachers,  in  their  preaching,  and  others 
in  their  common  converse.  They  were  now  in  a 
country  where  they  were  no  strangers,  for  Christ 
and  his  disciples  had  conversed  much  in  the  regions 
of  Judea ;  so  that  they  had  a  foundation  laid  there 
for  them  to  build  upon  ;  and  it  would  be  requisite  to 
let  the  people  there  know  what  that  doctrine  which 
Jesus  had  preached  there  some  time  ago  was  come 
to,  and  that  it  was  not  lost  and  forgotten,  as  perhaps 
they  were  made  to  believe. 

II.  A  particular  account  of  what  was  done  by  Phi¬ 
lip.  We  shall  hear  of  the -progress  and  success  of 
others  of  them  afterward,  (ch.  11.  19.)  but  here 
must  attend  the  motions  of  Philip,  not  Philip  the 
apostle,  but  Philip  the  deacon,  who  was  chosen  and 
ordained  to  serve  tables,  but  having  used  the  office 
of  a  deacon  well,  he  purchased  to  himself  a  good  de¬ 
gree,  and  great  boldness  in  the  faith,  1  Tim.  3.  13. 
Stephen  was  advanced  to  the  degree  of  a  martyr, 
Philip  to  the  degree  of  an  evangelist,  which  when 
he  entered  upon,  being  obliged  by  it  to  give  himself 
to  the  word  and  prayer,  he  was,  no  doubt,  discharg¬ 
ed  from  the  office  of  a  deacon ;  for  how  could  he  serve 
tables  at  Jerusalem,  which  by  that  office  he  was 
obliged  to  do,  when  he  was  preaching  in  Samaria  ? 
And  it  is  probable  that  two  others  were  chosen  in 
the  room  of  Stephen  and  Philip.  Now  observe, 

1.  What  wonderful  success  Philip  had  in  his 
preaching,  and  what  reception  he  met  with. 

(1.)  The  place  he  chose,  was,  the  city  of  Samaria; 
the  head-city  of  Samaria,  the  metropolis  of  that 
country,  which  stood  there  where  the  city  of  Sama¬ 
ria  had  formerly  stood,  which  we  read  of  the  build¬ 
ing  of,  1  Kings  16.  24.  now  called  Sebaste.  Some 
think  it  was  the  same  with  Sychem  or  Sychar,  that 
city  of  Samaria  where  Christ  was,  John  4.  5.  Many 
of  that  city  then  believed,  in  Christ,  though  he  did 
no  miracles  among  them  ;  (v.  39,  41.)  and  now  Phi¬ 
lip,  three  years  after,  can'ies  on  the  work  then  be¬ 
gun.  The  Jews  would  have  no  dealings  with  the 
Samaritans;  but  Christ  sent  his  gospel  to  slav  all 
enmities,  and  particularly  that  between  the  Jews 
and  the  Samaritans,  by  making  them  one  in  his 
church. 

(2.)  The  doctrine  he  preached,  was,  Christ;  for 
he  determined  to  know  nothing  else.  He  preached 
Christ  to  them,  he  proclaimed  Christ  to  them,  so 
the  word  signifies ;  as  a  king,  when  he  comes  to  the 
crown,  is  proclaimed  throughout  his  dominions.  The 
Samaritans  had  an  expectation  of  the  Messiah’s 
coming,  as  appears  by  John  4.  25.  Now  Philip  tells 
them  that  he  is  come,  and  that  the  Samaritans  are 
welcome  to  him.  Ministers’  business  is  to  preach 
Christ ;  Christ,  and  him  crucified ;  Christ,  and  him 
glorified. 

(3.)  The  proofs  he  produced  for  the  confirmation 
of  his  doctrine,  were,  miracles,  v.  6.  To  convince 
them  that  he  had  his  commission  from  heaven,  (and 
therefore  not  only  they  might  venture  upon  what  he 
said,  but  they  were  bound  to  yield  to  it,)  he  shews 
them  this  broad  seal  of  heaven  annexed  to  it,  which 
the  God  of  truth  would  never  put  to  a  lie.  The  mi¬ 


racles  were  undeniable,  they  heard  and  saw  the 
miracles  which  he  did ;  they  heard  the  commanding 
words  he  spake,  and  saw  the  amazing  effect  of  them 
immediately  ;  that  he  spake,  and  it  was  done.  And 
the  nature  of  the  miracles  was  such  as  suited  the 
intention  of  his  commission,  and  gave  light  and  lus¬ 
tre  to  it. 

[1.]  He  was  sent  to  break  the  power  of  Satan; 
and,  in  token  of  that,  unclean  spirits,  being  charged 
in  the  name  of  the  Lord  Jesus  to  remove,  came  out 
of  many  that  were  possessed  with  them,  v.  7.  As 
far  as  the  gospel  prevails,  Satan  is  forced  to  quit  his 
hold  of  men  and  his  interest  in  them,  and  then  those 
are  restored  to  themselves  and  to  their  right  mind 
again,  who,  while  he  kept  possession,  were  distract¬ 
ed.  Wherever  the  gospel  gains  the  a  c/mission  and 
mission  it  ought  to  have,  evil  spirits  are  dislodged, 
and  particularly  unclean  spirits,  all  inclinations  to 
the  lusts  of  the  flesh,  which  war  against  the  soul ;  for 
God  has  called  us  from  uncleanness  to  holiness,  1 
Thess.  4.  7.  This  was  signified  by  the  casting  of 
these  unclean  spirits  out  of  the  bodies  of  people,  who, 
it  is  here  said,  came  out  crying  with  a  loud  voice, 
which  signifies  that  they  came  out  with  great  reluc- 
tancy,  and  sore  against  their  wills,  but  were  forced 
to  acknowledge  themselves  overcome  by  a  superior 
power,  Mark  1.  26. — 3.  11. — 9.  26. 

[2.  ]  He  was  sent  to  heal  the  minds  of  men,  to  cure 
a  distempered  world,  and  to  put  it  into  a  good  state 
of  health ;  in  token  of  that,  many  that  were  taken 
with  palsies,  and  that  were  lame,  were  healed.  Those 
distempers  are  specified,  .that  were  most  difficult  to 
be  cured  by  the  course  of  nature,  (that  the  miracu¬ 
lous  cure  might  be  the  more  illustrious,)  and  those 
that  were  most  expressive  of  the  disease  of  sin,  and 
that  moral  impotency  which  the  souls  of  men  labour 
under  as  to  the  service  of  God.  The  grace  of  God 
in  the  gospel  is  designed  for  the  healing  of  those  that 
are  spiritually  lame  and  paralytic,  and  cannot  help, 
themselves,  Rom.  5.  6. 

(4.)  The  acceptance  which  Philip’s  doctrine,  thus 
proved,  met  with  in  Samaria;  (v.  6.)  The  people 
with  one  accord  gave  heed  to  those  things  which 
Philip  shake  ;  induced  thereto  by  the  miracles  which 
served  at  first  to  gain  attention,  and  so  by  degrees  to 
gain  assent.  There  then  begins  to  be  some  hopes 
of  people,  when  they  begin  to  take  notice  of  what  is 
said  to  them  concerning  the  things  of  their  souls  and 
eternity ;  when  they  begin  to  give  heed  to  the  word 
of  God,  as  those  that  are  well  pleased  to  hear  it,  de¬ 
sirous  to  understand  and  remember  it,  and  that  look 
upon  themselves  as  concerned  in  it.  The  common 
people  gave  heed  to  Philip,  li  o %\oi — a  multitude  of 
them,  not  here  and  there  one,  but  with  one  accord ; 
they  were  all  of  a  mind,  that  the  doctrine  of  the  gos¬ 
pel  was  fit  to  be  inquired  into,  and  an  impartial  hear 
ing  given  to  it. 

(5.)  The  satisfaction  they  had  in  attending  on,  and 
attending  to,  Philip’s  preaching,  and  the  success  it 
had  with  many  of  them;  (v.  8.)  There  was  great 
joy  in  that  city,  for,  (v.  12.)  They  believed  Philip, 
and  were  baptized,  into  the  faith  of  Christ,  the  ge¬ 
nerality  of  them,  both  men  and  women.  Observe, 

[1.]  Philip  preached  the  things  concerning  the  king¬ 
dom  of  Goa,  the  constitution  of  that  kingdom,  the 
laws  and  ordinances  of  it,  the  liberties  and  privileges 
of  it,  and  the  obligations  we  are  all  under  to  be  the 
loyal  subjects  of  that  kingdom  ;  and  he  preached  the 
name  of  Jesus  Christ,  as  King  of  that  kingdom  ;  his 
name,  which  is  above  every  name,  he  preached  it 
up  in  its  commanding  power  and  influence  ;  all  that 
by  which  he  has  made  himself  known.  (2.]  The 
people  not  only  gave  heed  to  what  he  said,  but  at 
length  believed  it ;  were  fully  convinced  that  it  was 
of  God,  and  not  of  men,  and  gave  up  themselves  to 
the  conduct  and  government  of  it.  As  to  this  moun¬ 
tain,  on  which  they  had  hitherto  worshipped  God,  4 


80 


THE  ACTS,  VIII. 


and  placed  a  great  deal  of  religion  in  it,  they  were 
now  as  much  weaned  from  it  as  ever  they  had  been 
wedded  to  it,  and  become  the  true  worshippers,  who 
worship  the  Father  in  spirit  and  in  truth,  and  in  the 
name  of  Christ,  the  true  Temple,  John  4.  20,  23. 
[3.]  W  hen  they  believed,  without  scruple  (though 
they  were  Samaritans)  and  without  delay  they  were 
baptized,  openly  professed  the  Christian  faith,  pro¬ 
mised  to  adhere  to  it,  and  then,  by  washing  them 
with  water,  were  solemnly  admitted  into  the  com¬ 
munion  of  the  Christian  church,  and  owned  as  bre¬ 
thren  by  the  disciples.  Men  only  were  capable  of 
being  admitted  into  the  Jewish  church  by  circumci¬ 
sion  ;  but,  to  shew  that  in  Jesus  Christ  there  is  nei¬ 
ther  male  nor  female,  (Gal.  3.  28. )  but  both  are  alike 
welcome  to  him,  the  initiating  ordinance  is  such  as 
women  are  capable  of,  for  they  are  numbered  with 
God’s  spiritual  Israel,  though  not  with  Israel  ac¬ 
cording  to  the  flesh.  Numb.  1.  2.  And  from  hence 
it  is  easily  gathered,  that  women  are  to  be  admitted 
to  the  Lord’s  supper,  though  it  does  not  appear  that 
there  were  any  among  those  to  whom  it  was  first 
administered.  [4.  ]  This  occasioned  great  joy;  each 
one  rejoiced  for  himself,  as  he  in  the  parable,  who 
found  the  treasure  hid  in  the  field ;  and  they  all  re¬ 
joiced  for  the  benefit  hereby  brought  to  their  city, 
and  that  it  came  without  opposition  ;  which  it  would 
scarcely  have  done,  if  Samaria  had  been  within  the 
jurisdiction  of  the  chief  priests.  Note,  The  bring¬ 
ing  of  the  gospel  to  any  place  is  just  matter  of  joy, 
of  great  joy,  to  that  place.  Hence  the  spreading  of 
the  gospel  in  the  world,  is  often  prophesied  of  in  the 
Old  Testament,  as  the  diffusing  of  joy  among  the 
nations  ;  Ps.  67.  4.  Let  the  nations  be  glad,  ana  sing 
for  joy,  1  Thess.  1.  6.  The  gospel  of  Christ  does 
not  make  men  melancholy,  but  fills  them  with  joy, 
if  it  be  received  as  it  should  be  ;  for  it  is  glad  tidings 
of  great  joy  to  all  people,  Luke  2.  10. 

2.  What  there  was  in  particular  at  this  city  of  Sa¬ 
maria,  that  made,  the  success  of  the  gospel  there 
more  than  ordinary  wonderful. 

(1.)  That  Simon  Magus  had  been  busy  there,  and 
had  gained  a  great  interest  among  the  people,  and 
yet  they  believed  the  things  that  Philip  spake.  To 
unlearn  that  which  is  bad,  proves  many  times  a 
harder  task  than  to  learn  that  which  is  good.  These 
Samaritans,  though  they  were  not  idolaters  as  the 
Gentiles,  nor  prejudiced  against  the  gospel  by  tra¬ 
ditions  received  from  their  fathers,  yet  they  had  of 
late  been  drawn  to  follow  Simon  a  conjurer,  (for  so 
Magus  signifies,)  who  made  a  mighty  noise  among 
them,  and  had  strangely  bewitched  them. 

We  are  here  told, 

[1.]  How  strong  the  delusion  of  Satan  was,  by 
which  they  were  brought  into  the  interests  of  this 
great  deceiver ;  he  had  been  for  some  time,  nay  for 
a  long  time,  in  this  city,  using  sorceries  ;  perhaps  he 
came  thither  by  the  instigation  of  the  Devil,  soon 
after  our  Saviour  had  been  there,  to  undo  what  he 
had  been  doing  there  ;  for  it  was  always  Satan’s  way 
to  crush  a  good  work  in  its  bud  and  infancy,  1  Cor. 
11.  3.  1  Thess.  3.  5.  Now, 

First,  Simon  assumed  to  himself  that  which  was 
considerable;  he  gave  out  that  himself  was  some 
great  one,  and  would  have  all  people  to  believe  so, 
and  to  pay  him  respect  accordingly  ;  and  then,  as  to 
every  tiling  else,  they  might  do  as  they  pleased  ;  he 
had  no  design  to  reform  their  lives,  or  improve  their 
worship  and  devotion,  only  to  make  them  believe 
that  he  was,  vie  — some  divine  person.  Justin 

Martin  says  that  he  would  be  worshipped  as,  rr^Zror 
9-icv — the  chief  god.  He  gave  out  himself  to  be  the 
Son  of  God,  the  Messiah,  so  some  think  ;  or  to  be  an 
angel,  or  a  prophet ;  perhaps  he  was  uncertain  with¬ 
in  himself  what  title  of  honour  to  pretend  to ;  but  he 
would  be  thought  some  great  one.  Pride,  ambition, 
and  an  affectation  of  grandeur,  have  always  been  the 


cause  of  abundance  of  mischief,  both  to  the  world 
and  to  the  church. 

Secondly,  The  people  ascribed  to  him  what  he 
pleased.  1.  They  all  gave  heed  to  him,  from  the 
least  to  the  greatest ;  both  young  and  old,  both  poor 
and  rich,  both  governors  and  governed ;  to  him  they 
had  regard,  [y.  10,  11.)  and  perhaps  the  more,  be¬ 
cause  the  time  fixed  for  the  coming  of  the  Messiah 
was  now  expired ;  which  had  raised  a  general  ex¬ 
pectation  of  the  appearing  of  some  great  one  about 
this  time.  Probably,  he  was  a  native  of  their  coun¬ 
try,  and  therefore  they  embraced  him  the  more 
cheerfully,  that  by  giving  honour  to  him  they  might 
reflect  it  upon  themselves.  2.  They  said  "of  him. 
This  man  is  the  great  power  of  God  ;  the  power  of 
God,  that  great  power ;  (so  it  might  be  read ;)  that 
power  which  made  the  world.  See  how  ignorant 
inconsiderate  people  mistake  that  which  is  done  by 
the  power  of  Satan,  as  if  it  were  done  by  the  power 
of  God  !  Thus,  in  the  Gentile  world,  devils  pass  for 
deities;  and  in  the  antichristian  kingdom  all  the 
world  wonders  after  a  beast,  to  whom  the  dragon 
gives  his  power,  and  who  opens  his  mouth  in  blas¬ 
phemy  against  God,  Rev.  13.  2,  3.  3.  They  were 

brought  to  it  by  his  sorceries  ;  he  bewitched  the  people 
of  Samaria,  (y.  9.)  bewitched  them  with  sorceries,  (v. 
11.)  that  is,  either,  (1.)  By  his  magic  arts  he  be¬ 
witched  the  minds  of  the  people,  at  least  some  of 
them,  who  drew  in  others.  Satan,  by  God’s  per¬ 
mission,  filled  their  hearts  to  follow  Simon.  O  fool¬ 
ish  Galatians,  saith  Paul,  who  hath  bewitched  you  ? 
Gal.  3.  1.  These  people  are  said  to  be  bewitched 
by  Simon,  because  they  were  so  strangely  infatuated 
to  believe  a  lie.  Or,  (2.)  By  his  magic  arts  he  did 
many  signs  and  lying  wonders ,  which  seemed  to  be 
miracles,  but  really  were  not  so ;  like  those  of  the 
magicians  of  Egypt,  and  those  of  the  man  of  sin,  2 
Thess.  2.  9.  When  they  knew  no  better,  they  were 
influenced  by  his  sorceries  ;  but  when  they  were  ac¬ 
quainted  with  Philip’s  real  miracles,  they  saw  plainly 
that  the  one  was  real  and  the  other  a  sham,  and  that 
there  was  as  much  difference  as  between  Aaron’s 
rod  and  those  of  the  magicians  :  What  is  the  chaff  to 
the  wheat?  Jer.  23.  28. 

Thus,  notwithstanding  the  influence  Simon  Magus 
had  had  upon  them,  and  the  loathness  there  gene¬ 
rally  is  in  people  to  own  themselves  in  an  error,  and 
to  retract  it,  yet,  when  they  saw  the  difference  be¬ 
tween  Simon  and  Philip,  they  quitted  Simon,  gave 
heed  no  longer  to  him,  but  to  Philip  :  and  thus  you 
see, 

[2.]  How  strong  the  power  of  divine  grace  is,  by 
which  they  were  brought  to  Christ,  who  is  'I' ruth 
itself,  and  was,  as  I  may  say,  the  great  Undeceiver. 
By  that  grace  working  with  the  word,  they  that  had 
been  led  captive  by  Satan,  were  brought  into  obedi¬ 
ence  to  Christ.  Where  Satan,  as  a  strong  man 
armed,  kept  possession  of  the  palace,  and  thought 
himself  safe,  Christ,  as  a  stronger  than  he,  dispos¬ 
sessed  him,  and  divided  the  spoil ;  led  captivity  cap¬ 
tive,  and  made  those  the  trophies  of  his  victory, 
whom  the  Devil  had  triumphed  over.  Let  us  not 
despair  of  the  worst,  when  even  those  whom  Simon 
Magus  had  bewitched  were  brought  to  believe. 

(2.)  Here  is  another  thing  yet  more  wonderful, 
that  Simon  Magus  himself  became  a  convert  to  the 
faith  of  Christ,  in  shew  and  profession,  for  a  time. 
Is  Saul  also  among  the  prophets?  Yes,  (y.  13.)  Si¬ 
mon  himself  believed  also;  he  was  convinced  that 
Philip  preached  a  tnie  doctrine,  because  he  saw  it 
confirmed  by  real  miracles,  which  lie  was  the  better 
able  to  judge  of,  because  he  was  conscious  to  him¬ 
self  of  the  trick  of  his  own  pretended  ones.  [1.] 
The  present  conviction  went  so  far,  that  he  was  bap¬ 
tized,  was  admitted,  as  other  believers  were,  into 
the  church,  bv  baptism  ;  and  we  have  no  reason  to 
think  that  Philip  did  amiss  in  baptizing  him  ;  no,  nor 


81 


THE  ACTS,  VIII. 


in  baptizing  him  quickly.  Though  he  had  been  a  | 
very  wicked  man,  a  sorcerer,  a  pretender  to  divine 
honours,  yet,  upon  his  solemn  profession  of  repen¬ 
tance  for  his  sin  and  faith  in  Jesus  Christ,  he  was 
baptized.  For,  as  great  wickedness  before  conver¬ 
sion  keeps  not  true  penitents  from  the  benefit  of 
God’s  grace,  so  neither  should  it  keep  professing 
ones  from  church-fellowship.  Prodigals,  when  they 
return,  must  be  joyfully  welcomed  home,  though  we 
cannot  be  sure  but  that  they  will  play  the  prodigal 
again.  Nay,  though  he  was  now  but  a  hypocrite, 
and  really  in  the  gall  of  bitterness  and  bond  of  ini¬ 
quity  all  this  while,  and  would  soon  have  been  found 
to  be  so  if  he  had  been  tried  a  while,  yet  Philip  bap¬ 
tized  him ;  for  it  is  God’s  prerogative  to  know  the 
heart :  the  church  and  its  ministers  must  go  by  a 
judgment  of  charity,  as  far  as  there  is  room  for  it. 

It  is  a  maxim  in  the  law,  Donee  contrarium  patet, 
semper  prdesumitur  meliori parti —  We  must  hope  the 
best  as  long  as  we  can.  And  it  is  a  maxim  of  the  , 
discipline  of  the  church,  De  secretis  non  judicat  ec- 
clesia — The  secrets  of  the  heart  God  only  judges. 
[2.]  The  present  conviction  lasted  so  long,  that  he 
continued  with  Philip  ;  though  afterward  he  aposta¬ 
tized  from  Christianity,  yet  not  quickly.  He  courted 
Philip’s  acquaintance  ;  and  now  he  that  had  given 
out  himself  to  be  some  great  one,  is  content  to  sit  at 
the  feet  of  a  preacher  oi  the  gospel.  Even  bad  men, 
very  bad,  may  sometimes  be  in  a  good  frame,  very 
good ;  and  they  whose  hearts  still  go  after  their  co¬ 
vetousness,  may  possibly  not  only  come  before  God 
as  his  people  come,  but  continue  with  them.  [3.] 
The  present  conviction  was  wrought  and  kept  up 
by  the  miracles ;  he  wondered  to  see  himself  so  fat- 
outdone  in  signs  and  miracles.  Many  wonder  at  the 
proofs  of  divine  truths,  who  never  experience  the 
power  of  them. 

14.  Now  when  the  apostles  which  were 
at  Jerusalem,  heard  that  Samaria  had  re¬ 
ceived  the  word  of  God,  they  sent  unto  them 
Peter  and  John.  1 5.  Who,  when  they  were 
come  down,  prayed  for  them  that  they 
might  receive  the  Holy  Ghost.  16.  (For 
as  yet  he  was  fallen  upon  none  of  them : 
only  they  were  baptized  in  the  name  of  the 
Lord  Jesus :)  1 7.  Then  laid  they  their 

hands  on  them,  and  they  received  the  Holy 
Ghost.  18.  And  when  Simon  saw  that 
through  laying  on  of  the  apostles’  hands  the 
Holy  Ghost  was  given,  he  offered  them 
money,  19.  Saying,  Give  me  also  this 
power,  that  on  whomsoever  T  lay  hands,  he 
may  receive  the  Holy  Ghost.  20.  But  Pe¬ 
ter  said  unto  him,  Thy  money  perish  with 
thee,  because  thou  hast  thought  that  the 
gift  of  God  may  be  purchased  with  money. 
21.  Thou  hast  neither  part  nor  lot  in  this 
matter :  for  thy  heart  is  not  right  in  the  sight 
of  God.  22.  Repent  therefore  of  this  thy 
wickedness,  and  pray  God,  if  perhaps  the 
thought  of  thine  heart  may  be  forgiven  thee. 

23.  For  I  perceive  that  thou  art  in  the  gall 
of  bitterness,  and  in  the  bond  of  iniquity. 

24.  Then  answered  Simon,  and  said,  Pray 
ye  to  the  Lord  for  me,  that  none  of  these 
things  which  ye  have  spoken  come  upon 
me.  25.  And  they,  when  they  had  testi 

Vol.  vi. — L 


I  tied  and  preached  the  word  of  the  Lord,  re¬ 
turned  to  Jerusalem,  and  preached  the  gos¬ 
pel  in  many  villages  of  the  Samaritans. 

God  had  wonderfully  owned  Philip  in  his  work  as 
an  evangelist  at  Samaria,  but  he  could  do  no  more 
than  an  evangelist;  there  were  some  peculiar  powers 
reserved  to  the  apostles,  for  the  keeping  up  of  the 
dignity  of  their  office,  and  here  we  have  an  account 
of  what  was  done  by  two  of  them  there — Peter  and 
John.  The  twelve  kept  together  at  Jerusalem,  (v. 
1.)  and  thither  these  good  tidings  were  brought 
them,  that  Samaria  had  received  the  word  of  God, 
(v.  14.)  that  a  great  harvest  of  souls  was  gathered, 
and  was  likely  to  be  gathered  in  to  Christ  there. 
The  word  of  God  was' not  only  preached  to  them, 
but  received  by  them ;  they  bid  it  welcome,  admitted 
the  light  of  it,  and  submitted  to  the  power  of  it. 
When  they  heard  it,  they  sent  unto  them  Peter  and 
John.  If  Peter  had  been,  as  some  say  he  was,  the 
prince  of  the  apostles,  he  would  have  sent  some  ol 
them,  or,  if  he  had  seen  cause,  would  have  gone 
himself  of  his  own  accord  ;  but  he  was  so  far  from 
that,  that  he  submitted  to  an  order  of  the  house,  and, 
as  a  servant  to  the  body,  went  whither  they  sent 
him.  Two  apostles  were  sent,  the  two  most  emi¬ 
nent,  to  Samaria,  1.  To  encourage  Philip,  to  assist 
him,  and  strengthen  his  hands.  Ministers  in  a  higher 
station,  and  that  excel  in  gifts  and  graces,  should 
contrive  how  they  may  be  helpful  to  those  in  a  lower 
sphere,  and  contribute  to  their  comfort  and  useful¬ 
ness.  2.  To  carry  on  the  good  work  that  was  begun 
among  the  people,  and,  with  those  heavenly  graces 
that  had  enriched  them,  to  confer  upon  them  spi¬ 
ritual  gifts.  Now  observe, 

T.  How  they  advanced  and  improved  those  of  them 
that  were  sincere;  it  is  said,  (v.  16.)  The  Holy 
Ghost  was  as  yet  fallen  upon  none  of  them,  in  those 
extraordinary  powers  which  were  conveyed  by  the 
descent  of  the  Spirit  upon  the  day  of  pentecost ;  they 
were  none  of  them  endued  with  the  gift  of  tongues, 
which  seems  then  to  have  been  the  most  usual,  im¬ 
mediate  effect  of  the  pouring  out  of  the  Spirit.  See 
ch.  10.  45,  46.  This  was  both  an  eminent  sign  to 
them  which  believed  not,  and  of  excellent  service 
to  them  that  did.  This,  and  other  such  gifts,  they 
had  not,  only  they  were  baptized  in  the  name  of  the 
Lord  Jesus,  and  so  engaged  to  him  and  interested 
in  him,  which  was  necessary  to  salvation,  and  in  that 
they  had  joy  and  satisfaction,  (y.  8.)  though  they 
could  not  speak  with  tongues.  They  that  are  in¬ 
deed  given  up  to  Christ,  and  have  experienced  the 
sanctifving  influences  and  operations  of  the  Spirit  of 
grace,  have  great  reason  to  be  thankful,  and  no  rea¬ 
son  to  complain,  though  they  have  not  those  gifts 
that  are  for  oniament,  and  would  make  them  bright. 

But  it  is  intended  that  they  should  go  on  to  the 
perfection  of  the  present  dispensation,  for  the  greater 
honour  of  the  gospel.  We  have  reason  to  think  that 
Philip  had  received  these  gifts  of  the  Holy  Ghost 
himself,  but  had  not  a  power  to  confer  them,  the 
apostles  must  come  to  do  that ;  and  they  did  it  not 
upon  all  that  were  baptized,  but  upon  some  of  them, 
and  it  should  seem,  such  as  were  designed  for  some 
office  in  the  church,  or  at  least  to  be  eminent  active 
members  of  it ;  and  upon  some  of  them,  one  gift  of 
the  Holy  Ghost,  and  upon  others,  another.  See  1 
Cor.  12.' 4,  8.— 14.  26. 

Now,  in  order  to  this, 

1.  The  apostles  prayed  for  them,  v.  15.  The 
Spirit  is  given,  not  to  ourselves  only ;  (Luke  11.  13.) 
but  to  others  also,  in  answer  to  prayer;  I  will  put 
my  Spirit  within  you,  (Ezek.^  36.  27.)  but  I  will  for 
this  be  inquired  of,  v.  37.  We  mav  take  encourage 
ment  from  this  example,  in  praying  to  God  to  grve 
the  renewing  graces  of  the  Holy  Ghost  to  them  v  hose 


82 


TH  fo  ACTS,  VIII. 


spiritual  welfare  we  are  concerned  for ;  for  cur  chil¬ 
dren,  for  our  friends,  for  our  ministers ;  we  should 
pray,  and  pray  earnestly,  that  they  may  receive  the 
Holy  Ghost ;  for  that  includes  all  blessings. 

2.  They  laid  their  hands  on  them,  to  signify  that 
their  prayers  were  answered,  and  that  the  gift  of 
the  Iioly  Ghost  was  conferred  upon  them;  for,  upon 
the  use  of  this  sign,  they  received  the  Holy  Ghost , 
and  sjiake  with  tongues.  The  laying  on  of  hands 
was  anciently  used  in  blessing,  by  those  who  blessed 
with  authority.  Thus  the  apostles  blessed  these 
new  converts,  ordained  some  to  be  ministers,  and 
confirmed  others  in  their  Christianity.  We  cannot 
now,  nor  can  any  thus  give  the  Holy  Ghost  by  the 
laying  on  of  hands ;  but  this  mat-  intimate  to  us,  that 
those  whom  we  pray  for  we  should  use  our  endea¬ 
vours  with. 

II.  How  they  discovered  and  discarded  him  that 
was  a  hypocrite  among  them,  and  that  was  Simon 
Magus;  for  they  knew  how  to  separate  between  the 
precious  and  the  vile.  Now  observe  here, 

1.  The  wicked  proposal  that  Simon  made,  by 

which  his  hypocrisy  was  discovered  ;  ( v .  18,  19. ) 
When  he  saw  that  through  laying  on  of  the  apostles' 
hands,  the  Holy  Ghost  was  given,  (which  should 
have  confirmed  his  faith  in  the  doctrine  of  Christ, 
and  increased  his  veneration  for  the  apostles,)  it 
gave  him  a  notion  of  Christianity  as  no  other  than  an 
exalted  piece  of  sorcery,  in  which  he  thought  him¬ 
self  capable  of  being  equal  to  the  apostles,  and  there¬ 
fore  offered  them  money,  saying,  Give  me  also  this 
power.  He  does  not  desire  them  to  lay  their  hands 
on  him,  that  he  might  receive  the  Holy  Ghost  him¬ 
self,  (for  he  did  not  foresee  that  any  thing  was  to  be 
got  by  that,)  but  that  they  would  convey  to  him  a 
power  to  bestow  the  gift  upon  others.  He  was  am¬ 
bitious  to  have  the  honour  of  an  apostle,  but  not  at 
all  solicitous  to  have  the  spirit  and  disposition  of  a 
Christian.  He  was  more  desirous  to  gain  honour  to 
himself  than  to  do  good  to  others.  Now,  in  making 
tl  is  motion,  (1.)  He  put  a  great  affront  upon  the 
apostles,  as  if  they  were  mercenary  men,  would  do 
any  thing  for  money,  and  loved  it  as  well  as  he  did  ; 
whereas  they  had  left  what  they  had,  for  Christ,  so 
far  were  they  from  aiming  to  make  it  more  !  (2. ) 

He  put  a  great  affront  upon  Christianity,  as  if  the 
miracles  that  were  wrought  for  the  proof  of  it,  were 
done  by  magic  art,  only  of  a  different  nature  from 
what  he  himself  had  practised  formerly.  (3. )  He 
shewed  that,  like  Balaam,  he  aimed  at  the  rewards 
of  divination ;  for  he  would  not  have  bid  money  for 
this  power,  if  he  had  not  hoped  to  get  money  by  it. 
(4. )  He  shewed  that  he  had  a  very  high  conceit  of 
himself,  and  that  he  had  never  his  heart  truly  hum¬ 
bled.  Such  a  wretch  as  he  had  been  before  his  bap¬ 
tism  should  have  asked,  like  the  prodigal,  to  be  made 
as  one  of  the  hired  servants.  But  as  soon  as  he  is 
admitted  into  the  family,  no  less  a  place  will  serve 
him  than  to  be  one  of  the  stewards  of  the  household, 
and  to  be  intrusted  with  a  power  which  Philip  him¬ 
self  had  not,  but  the  apostles  only. 

2.  The  just  rejection  of  his  proposal,  and  the  cut¬ 
ting  reproof  Peter  gave  him  for  it,  v.  20 — 23. 

(1.)  Peter  shews  him  his  crime;  ( v .  20.)  Thou 
hast  thought  that  the  gif t  of  God  may  be  purchased 
with  money ;  and  thus,  [1.]  He  had  overvalued  the 
wealth  of  this  world,  as  if  it  were  an  equivalent  for 
any  thing,  and  as  if,  because,  as  Solomon  saith,  it  an¬ 
swers  all  things  relating  to  the  life  that  now  is,  it 
would  answer  all  things  relating  to  the  other  life, 
and  would  purchase  the  pardon  of  sin,  the  gift  of  the 
Holy  Ghost,  and  eternal  life.  [2.]  He  had  under¬ 
valued  the  gift  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  put  it  upon  a 
level  with  the  common  gifts  of  nature  and  provi¬ 
dence.  He  thought  the  power  of  an  apostle  might 
as  well  be  had  for  a  good  fee  as  the  advice  of  a  phy¬ 
sician  or  a  lawyer;  which  was  the  greatest  despite 


that  could  be  done  to  the  Spirit  of  grace.  All  the 
buying  and  selling  of  pardons  and  indulgencies  in  the 
church  of  Rome  is  the  product  of  this  same  wicked 
thought,  that  the  gift  of  God  may  be  purchased  with 
money,  when  the  offer  of  divine  grace  so  expressly 
runs,  without  moiiey  and  without  price. 

(2.)  He  shews  him  his  character,  which  is  in¬ 
ferred  from  his  crime.  Fron  everything  that  a 
man  says  or  does  amiss,  we  caivmt  infer  that  he  is  a 
hypocrite  in  the  profession  he  makes  of  religion  ;  but 
this  of  Simon’s  was  such  a  fundamental  error,  as 
could  by  no  means  consist  with  a  state  of  grace  ;  his 
bidding  money  (and  that  got  by  sorcery  too)  was  an 
incontestable  evidence  that  he  was  yet  under  the 
power  of  a  worldly  and  carnal  mind,  and  was  yet 
that  natural  man  which  receiveth  not  the  things  oj 
the  Spirit  of  God,  neither  can  he  know  them.  And 
therefore  Peter  tells  him  plainly,  [1.]  That  his 
heart  was  not  right  in  the  sight  of  God,  v.  21. 
“Though  thou  professest  to  believe,  and  art  bap¬ 
tized,  yet  thou  art  not  sincere.”  We  are  as  our 
hearts  are  ;  if  they  be  not  right,  we  are  wrong ;  and 
they  are  open  in  the  sight  of  God,  who  knows  them, 
judges  them,  and  judges  of  us  by  them.  Our  hearts 
are  that  which  they  are  in  the  sight  of  God,  who 
cannot  be  deceived ;  and  if  they  be  not  right  in  his 
sight,  whatever  our  pretensions  be,  our  religion  is 
vain,  and  will  stand  us  in  no  stead  :  our  great  con¬ 
cern  is  to  approve  ourselves  to  him  in  our  integrity, 
for  otherwise  we  cheat  ourselves  into  our  own  ruin. 
Some  refer  this  particularly  to  the  proposal  he 
made ;  what  he  asked  is  denied  him,  because  his 
heart  is  not  right  in  the  sight  of  God  in  asking  it ;  he 
does  not  aim  at  the  glory  of  God  or  the  honour  of 
Christ  in  it,  but  to  make  a  hand  of  it  for  himself; 
he  asks,  and  has  not,  because-he  asks  amiss,  that  he 
may  consume  it  upon  his  lusts,  and  be  still  thought 
some  great  one.  [2.]  That  he  is  in  the  gall  of  bit¬ 
terness,  and  in  the  bond  of  iniquity  ;  I  perceive  that 
thou  art  so,  v.  23.  This  is  plain  dealing,  and  plain 
dealing  is  best  when  we  are  dealing  about  souls  and 
eternity.  Simon  had  got  a  great  name  among  the 
people,  and  of  late  'a  good  name  too  among  food’s 
people,  and  yet  Peter  here  gives  him  a  black  cha¬ 
racter.  Note,  It  is  possible  for  a  man  to  continue 
under  the  power  of  sin,  and  yet  to  put  on  a  form  of 
godliness.  I perceive  it,  saith  Peter.  It  was  not  so 
much  by  the  Spirit  of  discerning,  with  which  Peter 
was  endued,  that  he  perceived  this,  as  by  Simon’s 
discovery  of  it  in  the  proposal  he  made.  Note, 
The  disi^iises  of  hypocrites  many  times  are  soon 
seen  through  ;  the  nature  of  the  wolf  shews  itself 
notwithstanding  the  cover  of  the  sheep’s  clothing. 
Now  the  character  here  given  of  Simon  is  really  the 
character  of  all  wicked  people.  First,  They  are  in 
the  gall  of  bitterness ;  odious  to  God,  as  that  which 
is  bitter  as  gall  is  to  us.  Sin  is  an  abominable  thing 
which  the  Lord  hates,  and  sinners  are  by  it  made 
abominable  to  him  ;  they  are  vicious  in  their  own 
nature ;  indwelling  sin  is  a  root  of  bitterness,  that 
bears  gall  and  wormwood,  Deut.  29.  18.  The 
faculties  are  corrupted,  and  the  mind  imbittered 
against  all  good,  Heb.  12.  15.  It  speaks  likewise 
the  pernicious  consequences  of  sin  ;  the  end  is  bitter 
as  wormwood.  Secondly,  They  are  in  the  bond 
iniquity ;  bound  over  to  the  judgment  of  God  by  the 
guilt  of  sin,  and  bound  under  the  dominion  of  Satan 
by  the  power  of  sin  ;  led  captive  by  him  at  his  will, 
and  it  is  a  sore  bondage,  like  that  in  Egypt,  making 
the  life  bitter. 

(3.)  He  reads  him  his  doom  in  two  things: 

[1.]  He  shall  sink  with  his  worldly  wealth  which 
he  overvalued  ;  Thy  money  perish  with  thee.  First, 
Hereby  Peter  rejects  his  offer  with  the  utmost  dis¬ 
dain  and  indignation  ;  “  Dost  thou  think  thou  canst 
bribe  us  to  betray  our  trust,  and  to  put  the  power 
we  are  intrusted  with,  into  such  unworthy  hands  ? 


THE  ACTS,  VIII. 


83 


•Away  with  thee  and  thy  money  too ;  we  will  have  | 
nothing  to  do  with  either.  Get  thee  behind  me ,  ■ 
Satan.”  When  we  are  tempted  with  money  to  do  j 
an  evil  tiling,  we  should  see  what  a  perishing  thing  J 
money  is,  and  scorn  to  be  biassed  with  it.  It  is  the  j 
character  of  the  upright  man,  that  he  shakes  his  \ 
hands  from  holding,  from  touching  of  bribes,  Isa.  ! 
33.  15.'  Secondly,  He  warns  him  of  his  danger  of  j 
utter  destruction  if  he  continued  in  this  mind  ;  “  Thy  jj 
money  will  perish,  and  thou  wilt  lose  it,  and  all  that  [ 
thou  canst  purchase  with  it.  As  meats  for  the  belly,  j 
and  the  belly  for  meats,  (1  Cor.  6.  13.)  so  goods  for' 
money,  and  money  for  goods,  but  God  shall  destroy  !  ■ 
both  it  and  them,  they. perish  in  the  using ;  but  that 
is  not  the  worst  of  it,  thou  \ wilt  perish  with  it.,  and  it 
•with  thee ;  and  it  will  lie  an  aggravation  of  thy  ruin, 
and  a  heavy  load  upon  thy  perishing  soul,  that  thou 
hadst  money,  which  might  have  been  made  to  turn 
to  a  good  account,  (Luke  16.  9.)  which  might  have 
been  laid  at  the  apostles*  feet,  as  a  charity,  and 
would  have  been  accepted,  but  was  thrust  into  their 
hands  as  a  bribe,  and  was  rejected.  Son,  remember 
this” 

[2.]  He  shall  come  short  of  the  spiritual  blessings 
which  he  undervalued  ;  ( y .  21.)  “  Thou  hast  neither  j 
part  nor  lot  in  this  matter ;  thou  hast  nothing  to  do 
with  the  gifts  of  the  Holy -Ghost,  thou  dost  not  un¬ 
derstand  them,  thou  art  excluded  from  them,  hast 
put  a  bar  in  thine  own  door,  thou  canst  not  receive 
the  Holy  Ghost  thyself,  nor  power  to  confer  the 
Holy  Ghost  upon  others,  for  thy  heart  is  not  right  in 
the  sight  of  God,  if  thou  thinkest  that  Christianity  is 
a  trade  to  live  by  in  this  world,  and  therefore  thou 
hast  no  part  nor  lot  in  the  eternal  life  in  the  other 
world  which  the  gospel  offers.”  Note,  First,  There 
are  many  win)  profess  the  Christian  religion,  and  yet 
have  no  part  nor  lot  in  the  matter  ;  no  part  in  Christ, 
(John  13.  8.)  no  lot  in  the  heavenly  Canaan.  Se¬ 
condly,  They  are  those  whose  hearts  are  not  right 
in  the  sight  of  God,  are  not  "animated  by  a  right 
spirit,  nor  guided  by  a  right  rule,  nor  directed  to  the 
right  end. 

(4.)  He  gives  him  good  counsel,  notwithstanding, 
n.  22.  Though  he  was  angry  with  him,  yet  he  did 
not  abandon  him  ;  and  though  he  would  have  him 
see  his  case  to  be  very  bad,  yet  he  would  not  have 
him  think  it  desperate;  yet  now  there  is  hope  in 
Israel.  Observe, 

[1.]  What  it  is  that  he  advises  him  to;  he  must 
do  his  first  works  ;  First,  He  must  repent ;  must  see 
his  error,  and  retract  it ;  must  change  his  mind  and 
way  ;  must  be  humbled  and  ashamed  for  what  he  has 
done  ;  his  repentance  must  be  particular ;  “  Repent 
of  tills,  own  thyself  guilty  in  this,  and  be  sorry  for 
it.”  He  must  lay  load  upon  himself  for  it,  must  not 
extenuate  it,  by  calling  it  a  mistake,  or  misguided 
zeal,  but  must  aggravate  it,  by  calling  it  wickedness, 
his  wickedness,  the  fruit  of  his  own  corruption. 
Those  that  have  said  and  done  amiss,  must,  as  far. 
as  they  can,  unsay  it  and  undo  it  again  by  repent¬ 
ance.  Secondly,  He  must  pray  to  God,  must  pray 
that  God  would  give  him  repentance,  and  pardon 
upon  repentance.  Penitents  must  pray,  which  im¬ 
plies  a  desire  toward  God,  and  a  confidence  in 
Christ.  Simon  Magus,  great  a  man  as  he  thinks 
himself,  shall  not  be  courted  into  the  apostles’  com¬ 
munion,  (how  much  soever  some  would  think  it  a 
reputation  to  them,)  upon  any  other  terms  than 
those  upon  which  other  sinners  are  admitted — re¬ 
pentance  and  prayer. 

[2.]  What  encouragement  he  gives  him  to  do 
this  ;  if  perhaps  the  thought  of  thy  heart,  this  wicked 
thought  of  thine,  may  be  forgiven  thee.  Note,  First, 
There  may  be  a  great  deal  of  wickedness  in  the 
thought  of  the  heart,  its  false  notions,  and  corrupt 
affections,  and  wicked  projects,  which  must  be  re¬ 
pented  of,  or  we  are  undone.  Secondly,  The 


thought  of  the  heart,  though  ever  so  wicked,  shall 
be  forgiven,  upon  our  repentance,  an*d  not  laid  to  our 
charge.  When  Peter  here  puts  a  perhaps  upon  it, 
the  doubt  is  of  the  sincerity  of  his  repentance,  net 
of  his  pardon,  if  his  repentance  be  sincere.  If  in¬ 
deed  the  thought  of  thy  heart  may  be  forgiven,  so  it 
may  be  read.  Or  it  intimates,  that  the  greatness 
of  his  sin  might  justly  make  the  pardon  doubtful, 

I  though  the  promise  of  the  gospel  had  put  tlie  mat¬ 
ter  out  of  doubt,  in  case  he  did  truly  repent ;  like 
that,  (Lam.  3.  29. )  If  so  be  there  may  be  hope. 

[3.1  Simon’s  request  to  them  to  pray  for  him,  v. 

■  24.  He  was  startled  and  put  into  contusion  bv  that 
which  Peter  said,  finding  that  resented  thus,  which 
he  thought  would  have  been  embraced  with  both 
arms ;  and  he  cries  out,  Pray  ye  to  the  Lord  for  me, 
that  none  of  the  things  which  ye  have  spoken  come 
upon  me.  Here  was,  First,  Something  well ;  that 
he  was  affected  with  the  reproof  given  him,  and  ter¬ 
rified  by  the  character  given  of  him,  enough  to  make 
the  stoutest- heart  to  tremble  ;  and  that  being  so,  he 
begged  the  prayers  of  the  apostles  for  him,  wishing 
to  have  an  interest  in  them,  who,  he  believed,  had 
a  good  interest  in  Heaven.  Secondly,  Something 
wanting;  he  begged  of  them  to  pray  for  him,  but 
did  not  pray  for  himself,  as  he  ought  to  have  done ; 
and,  in  desiring  them  to  pray  for  him,  his  concern  is 
more  that  the  judgments  he  had  made  himself  liable 
to  might  be  prevented,  than  that  his  corruptions 
might  be  mortified,  and  his  heart  by  divine  grace, 
be  made  right  in  the  sight  of  God:  like  Phaiaoh, 
who  would  have  Moses  entreat  the  Lord  for  him, 
that  he  would  take  away  this  death  only,  not  that  he 
would  take  away  this  sin,  this  hardness  of  heart, 
Exod.  8.  8. — 10.  17.  Some  think  that  Peter  had 
denounced  some  particular  judgments  against  him, 
as  against  Ananias  and  Sapphira,  which,  upon  this 
submission  of  his,  at  the  apostle’s  intercession,  were 
prevented  :  or,  from  what  is  related,  he  might  infer, 
that  some  token  of  God’s  wrath  would  fall  upon 
him,  which  he  thus  dreaded  and  deprecated. 

Lastly,  Here  is  the  return  of  the  apostles  to  Jeru¬ 
salem,  when  they  had  finished  the  business  they 
came  about ;  for  as  yet  they  were  not  to  disperse  : 
but  though  they  came  hither  to  do  that  work  which 
was  peculiar  to  them  as  apostles,  yet,  opportunity 
offering  itself,  they  applied  themselves  to  that  which 
was  common  to  all  gospel-ministers.  1.  There  in 
the  city  of  Samaria  they  were  preachers,  they  testi¬ 
fied  the  word  of  the  Lord,  solemnly  attested  the 
truth  of  the  gospel,  and  confirmed  what  the  other 
ministers  preached :  they  did  not  pretend  to  bring 
them  any  thing  new,  though  they  were  apostles, 
but  bore  their  testimony  to  the  word  of  the  Lord  as 
they  had  received  it.  2.  In  their  road  home  they 
were  itinerant  preachers ;  as  they  passed  through 
many  villages  of  the  Samaritans  they  preached  the 
gospel.  Though  the  congregations  there  were  no¬ 
thing  so  considerable  as  in  the  cities,  either  for  num¬ 
ber  or  figure,  yet  their  souls  were  as  precious,  and 
the  apostles  did  not  think  it  below  them  to  preach, 
the  gospel  to  them.  God  has  a  regard  to  the  in¬ 
habitants  of  his  villages  in  Israel,  (Judg.  5.  11.)  and 
so  should  we. 

26.  And  the  angel  of  the  Lord  spake  unto 
Philip,  saying,  Arise  and  go  toward  the 
south,  unto  the  way  that  goeth  down  from 
Jerusalem  unto  Gaza,  which  is  desert.  27. 
And  he  arose  and  went :  and  behold,  a  man 
of  Ethiopia,  an  eunuch  of  great  authority 
under  Candace,  queen  of  the  Ethiopians, 
who  had  the  charge  of  all  her  treasure,  and 
had  come  to  Jerusalem  for  to  worship,  28. 
Was  returning,  and  sitting  in  his  chariot, 


84 


THE  ACTS,  VIII. 


read  Esaias  the  prophet.  29.  Then  the 
Spirit  said  unto  Philip,  Go  near,  and  join 
thyself  to  this  chariot.  30.  And  Philip  ran 
thither  to  him,  and  heard  him  read  the  pro¬ 
phet  Esaias,  and  said,  Understandest  thou 
what  thou  readest  ?  31.  And  he  said,  How 
can  I,  except  some  man  should  guide  me  ? 
And  he  desired  Philip  that  he  would  come 
up  and  sit  with  him.  32.  The  place  of  the 
scripture  which  he  read,  was  this,  He  was 
led  as  a  sheep  to  the  slaughter,  and  like  a 
lamb  dumb  before  his  shearer,  so  opened 
he  not  his  mouth  :  33.  In  his  humiliation 
his  judgment  was  taken  away:  and  who 
shall  declare  his  generation  ?  For  his  life 
is  taken  from  the  earth.  34.  And  the 
eunuch  answered  Philip,  and  said,  1  pray 
thee,  of  whom  speaketh  the  prophet  this  ? 
Of  himself,  or  of  some  other  man  ?  35. 

Then  Philip  opened  his  mouth,  and  began 
at  the  same  scripture,  and  preached  unto 
him  Jesus.  36.  And  as  they  went  on  their 
way,  they  came  unto  a  certain  water :  and 
the  eunuch  said,  See,  here  is  water ;  what 
doth  hinder  me  to  be  baptized  ?  37.  And 

Philip  said,  If  thou  believest  with  all  thine 
heart,  thou  mayest.  And  he  answered  and 
said,  I  believe  that  Jesus  Christ  is  the  Son 
of  God.  38.  And  he  commanded  the  cha¬ 
riot  to  stand  still :  and  they  went  down  both 
into  the  water,  both  Philip  and  the  eunuch  ; 
and  he  baptized  him.  39.  And  when  they 
were  come  up  out  of  the  water,  the  Spirit 
)f  the  Lord  caught  away  Philip,  that  the 
eunuch  saw  him  no  more  :  and  he  went  on 
his  way  rejoicing.  40.  But  Philip  was 
found  at  Azotus :  and  passing  through,  he 
preached  in  all  the  cities  till  he  came  to 
Caesarea. 

We  have  here  the  story  of  the  conversion  of  an 
Ethiopian  eunuch  to  the  faith  of  Christ ;  by  whom, 
we  have  reason  to  think,  the  knowledge  of  Christ 
was  sent  into  that  country  where  he  lived,  and  that 
scripture  fulfilled,  Ethiopia  shall  soon  stretch  out  her 
hands,  one  of  the  first  of  the  nations,  unto  God,  Ps. 
68.  31. 

I.  Philip  the  evangelist  is  directed  into  the  road 
where  he  would  meet  with  this  Ethiopian,  v.  26. 
When  the  churches  in  Samaria  were  settled,  and 
had  ministers  appointed  them,  the  apostles  went 
back  to  Jerusalem  ;  but  Philip  stays,  expecting  to 
be  employed  in  breaking  up  fresh  ground  in  the 
country.  And  here  we  have, 

1.  Direction  given  him  by  an  angel,  (probably,  in 
a  dream,  or  vision  of  the  night,)  what  course  to 
steer:  Arise  and  go  toward  the  south.  Though  an¬ 
gels  were  not  employed  to  preach  the  gospel,  they 
were  often  employed  in  carrying  messages  to  minis¬ 
ters  for  advice  and  encouragement,  as  ch.  5.  19.  We 
cannot  now  expect  such  guides  in  our  way  ;  but 
doubtless  there  is  a  special  providence  of  God  con¬ 
versant  about  the  removes  and  settlements  of  minis¬ 
ters,  and  one  way  or  other  he  will  direct  those  who 
sincerely  desire  to  follow  him,  into  that  way  in  which 
be  will  own  them  ;  he  will  guide  them  with  his  eye. 


He  must  go  southward ,  to  the  way  that  leads  from 
Jerusalem  to  Gaza,  through  the  desert  or  wilderness 
of  Judah.  Philip  would  never  have  thought  of  going 
thither,  into  a  desert,  into  a  common  road  through 
the  desert ;  small  probability  of  finding  work  there! 
Yet  thither  he  is  sent,  according  to  our  Saviour’s  pa¬ 
rable,  foretelling  the  call  of  the  Gentiles,  G’o  ye  into 
the  high-ways,  and  the  hedges.  Matt.  22.  9.  Some¬ 
times  God  opens  a  door  of  opportunity  to  his  minis¬ 
ters  in  places  very  unlikely. 

2.  His  obedience  to  this  direction;  (v.  27.)  He 
arose  and  went;  without  objecting,  or  so  much  as 
asking,  “  What  business  have  1  there  ?”  Or,  “What 
likelihood  is  there  of  doing  good  there  ?”  He  went 
out,  not  knowing  whither  he  went,  or  whom  he  was 
to  meet. 

II.  An  account  is  given  of  this  eunuch,  (v.  27.) 
who,  and  what,  he  was,  on  whom  this  distinguishing 
favour  was  bestowed. 

1.  He  was  a  foreigner,  a  man  of  Ethiopia  ;  there 
were  two  Ethiopias,  one  in  Arabia,  but  that  lay  east 
from  Canaan  ;  it  should  seem,  this  was  of  Ethiopia 
in  Africa,  which  lay  south,  beyond  Egypt,  a  great 
way  off  from  Jerusalem  ;  for  in  Christ,  they  that 
were  afar  off  were  made  nigh,  according  to  the  pro¬ 
mise,  that  the  ends  of  the  earth  should  see  the  great 
salvation.  The  Ethiopians  were  looked  upon  as  the 
meanest  and  most  despicable  of  the  nations,  black- 
moors,  as  if  nature  had  stigmatized  them  ;  yet  the 
gospel  is  sent  to  them,  and  divine  grace  looks  upon 
them,  though  they  are  black,  though  the  sun  has 
looked  upon  them. 

2.  He  was  a  person  of  quality,  a  great  man  in  his 
own  country,  an  eunuch  ;  not  in  body,  but  in  office  ; 
lord  chamberlain  or  steward  of. the  household  ;  and, 
either  by  the  dignity  of  his  place  or  by  his  personal 
character,  which  commanded  respect,  he  was  of 
great  authority,  and  bore  a  mighty  sway  under  C'an- 
clace  queen  of  the  Ethiopians,  who  probabl  y  was  suc¬ 
cessor  to  the  queen"  of  Sheba,  who  is  called  the 
queen  of  the  south  ;  that  country  being  governed  by 
queens,  to  whom  Candace  was  a  common  name,  as 
Pharaoh  to  the  kings  of  Egypt ;  he  had  the  charge 
of  all  her  treasure  ;  so  great  a  trust  did  she  repose 
in  him  !  Not  many  mighty,  riot  many  noble,  are 
called  ;  but  some  are. 

3.  He  was  a  proselyte  to  the  Jewish  religion,  for 
he  came  to  Jerusalem  for  to  worship.  Some  think 
that  he  was  a  proselyte  of  righteousness,  who  was 
circumcised,  and  kept  the  feasts  ;  others,  that  he 
was  only  a  proselyte  of  the  gate,  a  Gentile,  but  who 
had  renounced  idolatry,  and  worshipped  the  God  of 
Israel  occasionally  in  the  court  of  the  Gentiles  :  but, 
if  so,  then  Peter  was  not  the  first  that  preached  the 
gospel  to  the  Gentiles,  as  he  says  he  was.  Some 
think  that  there  were  remains  of  the  knowledge  of 
the  true  God  in  this  country,  ever  since  the  queen  of 
Sheba’s  time  ;  and  probably  the  ancestor  of  this  eu¬ 
nuch  was  one  of  her  attendants,  who  transmitted  to 
his  posterity  what  he  learned  at  Jerusalem. 

III.  Philip  and  the  eunuch  are  In-ought  together 
into  a  close  conversation  ;  and  now  Philip  shall  know 
the  meaning  of  his  being  sent  into  a  desert,  for  there 
he  meets  with  a  chariot,  that  shall  serve  for  a  syna¬ 
gogue,  and  one  man,  the  conversion  of  whom  shall 
be  in  effect,  for  aught  lie  knows,  the  conversion  of  a 
whole  nation. 

1.  Philip  is  ordered  to  fall  into  company  with  this 
traveller  that  is  going  home  from  Jerusalem  toward 
Gaza,  thinking  he  has  done  all  the  business  of  his 
journey,  when  the  great  business  which  the  over¬ 
ruling  providence  of  God  designed  in  it,  was  yet  un- 
|  done.  He  had  been  at  Jerusalem,  where  the 'apos¬ 
tles  were  preaching  the  Christian  faith,  and  multi¬ 
tudes  professing  it,  and  yet  there  he  had  taken  no 
notice  of  it,  and  made  no  inquiries  after  it ;  nay,  it 
should  seem,  had  slighted  it,  and  turned  his  hack 


THE  ACTS,  VIII. 


85 


upon  it ;  yet  the  grace  of  God  pursues  him,  over¬ 
takes  him  in  the  desert,  and  there  overcomes  him. 
Thus  God  is  often  found  of  those  that  sought  him 
not,  I-sa.  65.  1.  Philip  has  this  order,  not  by  an  an¬ 
gel,  as  before,  but  by  the  Sjiifit  whispering  it  in  his 
ear,  (v.  29.)  “  Go  near,  and  join  thyself  to  this  cha¬ 
riot ;  go  so  near  as  that  the  gentleman  may  take  no¬ 
tice  of  thee.  ”  We  should  study  to  do  good  to  those 
we  light  in  company  with  upon  the  road :  thus  the 
lijis  of  the  righteous  may  feed  many.  We  should 
not  be  so  shy  of  all  strangers  as  some  affect  to  be. 
Those  we  know  nothing  else,  we  know  this  of,  that 
they  have  souls. 

2.  He  finds  him  reading  in  his  Bible,  as  he  sat  in 
his  chariot ;  (v.  28. )  He  ran  to  him,  and  heard  him 
read ;  lie  read  out,  for  the  benefit  of  those  that  were 
with  him,  v.  30.  He  not  only  relieved  the  tedious¬ 
ness  of  the  journey,  but  redeemed  time  by  reading, 
not  philosophy,  history,  or  politics,  much  less  a  ro¬ 
mance,  or  a  play,  but  the  scriptures,  the  book  of 
Esaias  ;  that  book  Christ  read  in,  (Luke  4.  17.)  and 
the  eunuch  here,  which  should  recommend  it  parti¬ 
cularly  to  our  reading.  Perhaps  the  eunuch  was  now 
reading  over  again  those  portions  of  scripture  which 
he  had  heard  read  and  expounded  at  Jerusalem,  that 
he  might  recollect  what  he  had  heard.  Note,  ( 1 .)  It 
is  the  duty  of  every  one  of  us  to  converse  much  with 
the  holy  scriptures.  (2.)  Persons  of  quality  should 
abound  more  than  others  in  the  exercises  of  piety, 
because  their  example  will  influence  many,  and  they 
have  their  time  more  at  command.  (3.)  It  is  wis¬ 
dom  for  men  of  business  to  redeem  time  for  holy  du¬ 
ties  ;  time  is  precious,  and  it  is  the  best  husbandry 
in  the  world  to  gather  u/i  the  fragments  of  time,  that 
none  be  lost ;  to  fill  up  every  minute  with  something  [ 
that  will  turn  to  a  good  account.  (4.)  When  we  are 
returning  from  public  worship,  we  should  use  means 
in  private  for  the  keeping  up  of  the  good  affections 
there  kindled,  and  the  preserving  of  the  good  im¬ 
pressions  there  made,  1  Chron.  29.  18.  (5.)  Those 
that  are  diligent  in  searching  the  scriptures,  are  in  a 
fair  way  to  improve  in  knowledge  ;  for  to  him  that 
hath  shall  be  given. 

3.  He  puts  a  fair  question  to  him  ;  Understanclest 
thou  what  thou  readest?  Not  by  way  of  reproach, 
but  with  design  to  offer  him  his  service.  Note, 
What  we  read  and  hear  of  the  word  of  God,  it  highly 
concerns  us  to  understand,  especially  what  we  read 
and  hear  concerning  Christ ;  and  therefore  we 
should  often  ask  ourselves,  whether  we  understand 
it  or  no  ?  Have  ye  understood  all  these  things  ? 
Matt.  13.  51.  And  have  ye  understood  them 
aright  ?  We  cannot  profit  by  the  scriptures  unless 
we  do  in  some  measure  understand  them,  1  Cor.  14. 
16,  17.  And,  blessed  be  God,  what  is  necessary  to 
salvation,  is  easy  to  be  understood. 

4.  He,  in  a  sense  of  his  need  of  assistance,  desires 
Philip’s  company;  (u.  31.)  “  How  can  I  under¬ 
stand,  said  he,  excefit  some  one  guide  me?  There¬ 
fore  pray  come  up,  and  sit  with  me.”  (1.)  He 
speaks  as  one  that  had  very  low  thoughts  of  himself 
and  his  own  capacity  and  attainments.  He  was  so 
far  from  taking  it  as  an  affront,  to  be  asked,  whether 
he  understood  what  he  read,  though  Philip  was  a 
stranger,  on  foot,  and  probably  looked  mean,  (which 
many  a  less  man  would  have  done,  and  have  called 
him  an  impertinent  fellow,  and  bid  him  go  about  his 
business,  what  was  it  to  him  ?)  that  he  takes  the 
question  kindly  ;  makes  a  very  modest  reply,  How 
can  I?  We  have  reason  to  think  he  was  an  intelli¬ 
gent  man,  and  as  well  acquainted  with  the  meaning 
of  scripture  as  most  were,  and  yet  he  modestly  con¬ 
fesses  his  weakness.  Note,  Those  that  would  learn, 
must  see  their  need  to  be  taught.  The  prophet  must 
first  own  that  he  knows  not  what  these  are,  and  then 
the  angel  Will  tell  him,  Zech.  4.  13.  (2.)  He  speaks 
as  one  very  desirous  to  be  taught,  to  have  some  one 


to  guide  him.  Observe,  He  read  the  scripture, 
though  there  were  many  things  in  it  which  he  did 
not  understand ;  though  there  are  many  things  in 
the  scriptures,  which  are  dark  and  hard  to  be  under¬ 
stood,  nay,  which  are  often  misunderstood,  yet  we 
must  not  therefore  throw  them  by,  but  study  them 
for  the  sake  of  those  things  that  are  easy,  which  is 
the  likeliest  way  to  come  by  degrees  to 'the  under¬ 
standing  of  those  things  that  are  difficult ;  for  know¬ 
ledge  and  grace  grow  gradually.  (3.)  He  invited 
Philip  to  come  up  and  sit  with  him  ;  not  as  Jehu 
took  Jonadab  into  his  chariot,  to  come  see  his  zeal  for 
the  Lord  of  hosts,  (2  Kings  10.  16.)  but  rather, 
“Come,  see  my  ignorance,  and  instruct  me.”  He 
will  gladly  do  Philip  the  honour  to  take  him  into  the 
coach  with  him,  if  Philip  will  do  him  the  favour  to 
expound  a  portion  of  scripture  to  him.  Note,  In  or¬ 
der  to  our  right  understanding  of  the  scripture,  it  is 
requisite  we  should  have  some  one  to  guide  us ; 
some  good  books,  and  some  good  men,  but  above  all, 
the  Spirit  of  grace,  to  lead  us  into  all  truth. 

IV.  The  portion  of  scripture  which  the  eunuch 
recited,  with  some  hints  of  Philip’s  discourse  upon 
it.  'Phe  preachers  of  the  gospel  had  a  very'  good 
handle  to  take  hold  of  those  by,  who  were  conver¬ 
sant  with  the  scriptures  of  the  Old  Testament,  and 
received  them,  especially  when  they  found  them  ac¬ 
tually  engaged  in  the  study  of  them,  as  the  eunuch 
was  here. 

1.  The  chapter  he  was  reading,  was,  the  fifty- 
third  of  Isaiah,  two  verses  of  which  are  here  quoted, 
(v.  32,  33.)  part  of  the  seventh  and  eighth  verses ; 
they  are  set  down  according  to  the  Septuagint  ver¬ 
sion,  which  in  some  things  differs  from  the  original 
Hebrew.  Grotius  thinks  the  eunuch  read  it  in  the 
Hebrew,  but  Luke  takes  the  Septuagint  translation, 
as  readier  to  the  language  in  which  he  wrote  ;  and 
he  supposes  that  the  eunuch  had  learned  from  the 
many  Jews  that  were  in  Ethiopia,  both  their  reli¬ 
gion  and  language.  But,  considering  that  the  Sep¬ 
tuagint  version  was  made  in  Egypt,  which  was  the 
next  country'  adjoining  to  Ethiopia,  and  lay  betwixt 
them  and  Jerusalem,  I  rather  think  that  translation 
was  most  familiar  to  him.  It  appears  by  Isa.  20.  4. 
that  there  was  much  communication  between  those 
two  nations — Egypt  and  Ethiopia.  The  greatest 
variation  from  the  Hebrew,  is,  that  what  in  the  ori¬ 
ginal  is,  He  was  taken  from  prison  and  from  judg¬ 
ment,  (hurried  with  the  utmost  violence  and  preci¬ 
pitation  from  one  judgment-seat  to  another ;  or 
From  force  and  from  judgment  he  was  taken  away  ; 
that  is,  It  was  from  the  fury  of  the  people,  and  their 
continual  clamours,  and  the  judgment  of  Pilate 
thereupon,  that  he  was  taken  away,)  is  here  read. 
In  his  humiliation  his  judgment  was  taken  away. 
He  appeared  so  mean  and  despicable  in  their  eyes, 
that  they  denied  him  common  justice,  and,  against 
all  the  rules  of  equity',  which  every  man  is  entitled 
to  the  benefit  of,  they'  declared  him  innocent,  and 
yet  condemned  him  to  die  ;  nothing  criminal  can  be 
proved  upon  him,  but  he  is  down,  and  down  with 
him.  Thus  in  his  humiliation  his  judgment  was 
taken  away ;  so,  the  sense  is  much  the  same  with 
that  of  the  Hebrew. 

So  that  these  verses  foretold  concerning  the  Mes¬ 
siah, 

(1.)  That  he  should  die;  should  be  led  to  the 
slaughter,  as  sheep  that  were  offered  in  sacrifice  ; 
that  his  life  should  be  taken  from  among  men,  taken 
from  the  earth.  With  what  little  reason  then  was 
!  the  death  of  Christ  a  stumbling-block  to  the  unbe- 
[  lieving  Jews,  when  it  was  so  plainly  foretold  by’  their 
own  prophets,  and  was  so  necessary  to  the  accom- 
I  plishment  of  his  undertaking  !  Then  is  the  offence 
of  the  cross  ceased. 

(2.)  That  he  should  die  wrongfullv  ;  should  die  by 
violence,  should  be  hurried  out  of  his  life,  and  his 


36 


THE  ACTS,  VIII. 


judgment  shall  be  taken  away ;  no  justice  done 
him  ;  for  he  must  be  cut  off,  but  not  for  himself. 

(3.)  That  lie  should  die  patiently  ;  like  a  lamb 
dumb  before  the  shearer,  nay,  and  before  the  butcher 
too,  so  he  opened  not  his  mouth  ;  never  was  such  an 
example  ol  patience  as  our  Lord  Jesus  was  in  his 
sufferings ;  when  he  was  accused,  when  he  was 
abused,  he  was  silent,  reviled  not  again,  threatened 
not. 

(4.)  That  yet  he  should  live  for  ever,  to  ages 
which  cannot  be  numbered  ;  for  so  I  understand 
those  words,  Who  shall  declare  his  generation?  The 
Hebrew  word  properly  signifies,  the  duration  of  one 
life,  Eccl.  1.  4.  Now  who  can  conceive  or  express 
how  long  he  shall  continue,  notwithstanding  this ; 
for  his  life  is  only  taken  from  the  earth  ?  in  heaven 
he  shall  live  to  endless  and  innumerable  ages,  as  it 
follows  in  Isa.  53.  10.  He  shall  prolong  his  days. 

2.  The  eunuch’s  question  upon  this,  is,  Of  whom 
speaketh  the  prophet  this?  v.  34.  He  does  not  desire 
Philip  to  give  some  critical  remarks  upon  the  words 
and  phrases,  and  the  idioms  of  the  language,  but  to 
acquaint  him  with  the  general  scope  and  design  of 
the  prophecy,  to  furnish  him  with  a  key,  in  the  use 
of  which  he  might,  by  comparing  one  thing  with 
another,  be  let  into  the  meaning  of  the  particular 
passages.  Prophecies  had  usually  in  them  something 
of  obscurity,  till  they  were  explained  by  the  accom¬ 
plishment  of  them,  as  this  now  was.  It  is  a  material 
question  he  asks,  and  a  very  sensible  one  ;  “  Does 
the  prophet  speak  this  of  himself,  in  expectation  of 
being  used,  being  ?m'$used,  as  the  other  prophets 
were;  or  does  he  speak  it  of  some  other  man,  in  his 
own  age,  or  in  some  age  to  come  ?”  Though  the 
modern  Jews  will  not  allow  it  to  be  spoken  of  the 
Messiah,  yet  their  ancient  doctors  did  so  interpret 
it ;  and  perhaps  the  eunuch  knew  it,  and  did  partly 
understand  it  so  himself,  only  he  proposed  this  ques¬ 
tion,  to  draw  on  discourse  with  Philip  ;  for  the  way 
to  improve  in  learning,  is,  to  consult  the  learned  ;  as 
they  must  inquire  the  law  at  the  mouth  of  the  priests, 
(Mai.  2.  7.)  so  they  must  inquire  the  gospel,  especi¬ 
ally  that  part  of  the  treasure  which  is  hid  in  the 
field  of  the  Old  Testament,  at  the  mouth  of  the  mi¬ 
nisters  of  Christ.  The  way  to  receive  good  instruc¬ 
tions,  is,  to  ask  good  questions. 

3.  Philip  takes  this  fair  occasion  given  him,  to 
open  to  him  the  great  mystery  of  the  gospel  con¬ 
cerning  Jesus  Christ  and  him  crucified.  He  began 
at  this  scripture,  took  that  for  his  text,  (as  Christ 
did  another  passage  of  the  same  prophecy,  Luke  4. 
21.)  and  preached  unto  him  Jesus,  v.  35.  That  is 
all  the  account  given  us  of  Philip’s  sermon,  because 
it  was  the  same  in  effect  with  Peter’s  sermons, 
which  we  have  had  before.  The  business  of  gospel- 
ministers  is  to  preach  Jesus,  and  that  is  the  preach¬ 
ing  that  is  likely  to  do  good.  It  is  probable  that 
Philip  had  now  occasion  for  his  gift  of  tongues,  that 
he  might  preach  Christ  to  this  Ethiopian  in  the  lan¬ 
guage  of  his  own  country.  And  here  we  have  an 
instance  of  speaking  of  the  things  of  God,  and  speak¬ 
ing  of  them  to  good  purpose,  not  only  as  we  sit  in  the 
house,  but  as  we  walk  by  the  way,  according  to  that 
rule,  Dent.  6.  7. 

V.  The  eunuch  is  baptized  in  the  name  of  Christ, 
v.  36 — 38.  It  is  probable  that  the  eunuch  had  heard 
at  Jerusalem  of  the  doctrine  of  Christ,  so  that  it  was 
not  altogether  new  to  him.  But,  if  he  had,  what 
could  that  do  toward  this  speedy  conquest  that  was 
made  of  his  heart  for  Christ  ?  It  was  a  powerful 
working  of  the  Spirit  with  and  by  Philip’s  preaching 
that  gained  the  point.  Now  here  we  have, 

1.  The  modest  proposal  which  the  eunuch  made 
of  himself  to  baptism  ;  (v.  36. )  As  then  went  on  their 
way,  discoursing  of  Christ,  the  eunuch  asking  more 
questions,  and  Philip  answering  them  to  his  satis- 
‘action,  they  came  unto  a  certain  water,  a  well, 


river,  or  pond,  the  sight  of  which  made  the  eunuch 
think  of  being  baptized.  Thus  God,  by  hints  of 
providence  which  seem  casual,  sometimes  puts  his 
people  in  mind  of  their  duty,  which  otherwise  per¬ 
haps  they  would  not  have  thought  of.  The  eunuch 
knew  not  how  little  a  while  Philip  might  be  with 
him,  nor  where  he  might  afterwards  inquire  for  him ; 
he  could  not  expect  his  travelling  with  him  to  his 
next  stage,  and  therefore  if  Philip  think  fit,  lie  will 
take  the  present  convenience  which  offers  itself,  of 
being  baptized  ;  “  See,  here  is  water,  which  perhaps 
we  may  not  meet  with  a  great  while  again  ;  what 
doth  hinder  me  to  be  baptized?  Canst  thou  shew 
any  cause  why  I  should  not  be  admitted  a  disciple 
and  follower  of  Christ  by  baptism  ?”  Observe,  (1.) 
He  does  not  demand  baptism,  does  not  say,  “  Here 
is  water,  and  here  I  am  resolved  I  will  be  baptized;” 
for  if  Philip  have  any  thing  to  offer  to  the  contrary, 
he  is  willing  to  wave  it  for  the  present.  If  he  think 
him  not  fit  to  be  baptized,  or  if  there  be  any  thing 
in  the  institution  of  the  ordinance,  which  will  not 
admit  such* a  speedy  administration  of  it,  he  will 
not  insist  upon  it.  The  most  forward  zeal  must 
submit  to  order  and  rule.  But,  (2.)  He  does  desire 
it,  and  unless  Philip  can  shew  cause  why  not,  he  de¬ 
sires  it  now,  and  is  not  willing  to  defer  it.  Note,  In 
the  solemn  dedicating  and  devoting  of  ourselves  to 
God,  it  is  good  to  make  haste,  and  not  to  delay  ;  for 
the  present  time  is  the  best  time,  Ps.  119.  60.  They 
who  have  received  the  thing  signified  by  baptism, 
should  not  put  off  receiving  the  sign.  The  eunuch 
feared  lest  the  good  affections  now  working  in  him 
should  cool  and  abate,  and  therefore  was  willing 
immediately  to  bind  his  soul  with  the  baptismal 
bonds  unto  the  Lord,  that  he  .might  bring  the  mat¬ 
ter  to  an  issue. 

2.  The  fair  declaration  which  Philip  made  him  of 
the  terms  upon  which  he  might  have  the  privilege 
of  baptism  ;  (y.  37.)  If  thou  believest  with  all  thine 
heart,  thou  mayest ;  that  is,  “If  thou  believest  this 
doctrine  which  I  have  preached  to  thee  concerning 
Jesus,  if  thou  receivest  the  record  God  has  given 
concerning  him,  and  set  to  thy  seal  that  it  is  true.” 
He  must  believe  with  all  his  heart,  for  with  the 
heart  man  believeth,  not  with  the  head  only,  by  an  as¬ 
sent  to  gospel-truths,  in  the  understanding ;  but  with 
the  heart,  by  a  consent  of  the  will  to  gospel-terms. 
“  If  thou  do  indeed  believe  with  all  thy  heart,  thou 
art  by  that  united  to  Christ,  and  if  thou  give  proofs 
and  evidences  that  thou  dost  so,  thou  mayest  by 
baptism  be  joined  to  the  church.” 

3.  The  confession  of  faith  which  the  eunuch  made 
in  order  to  his  being  baptized  ;  it  is  very  short,  but 
it  is  comprehensive  and  much  to  the  purpose,  and 
what  was  sufficient ;  I  believe  that  Jesus  Christ  is 
the  Son  of  God.  He  was  before  a  worshipper  of  the 
true  God,  so  that  all  he  had  to  do  now,  was,  to  re¬ 
ceive  Christ  Jesus  the  Lord.  (1.)  He  believes  that 
Jesus  is  the  Christ,  the  true  Messiah  promised,  the 
Anointed  One.  (2.)  That  Christ  is  Jesus — a  Sa¬ 
viour,  the  only  Saviour  of  his  people  from  their  sins. 
And,  (3.)  That  this  Jesus  Christ  is  the  Son  of  God, 
that  he  has  a  divine  nature,  as  the  Son  is  of  the  same 
nature  with  the  Father  ;  and  that,  being  the  Son  of 
God,  he  is  the  Heir  of  all  things.  This  is  the  prin¬ 
cipal,  peculiar  doctrine  of  Christianity,  and  whoso¬ 
ever  believe  this  with  all  their  heart,  and  confess  it, 
they  and  their  seed  are  to  be  baptized. 

4.  The  baptizing  of  him  hereupon.  The  eunuch 
ordered  his  coachman  to  stop,  commanding  the  cha¬ 
riot  to  stand  still ;  it  was  the  best  baiting  place  he 
ever  met  with  in  any  of  his  journeys ;  they  went 
down  both  into  the  water,  for  they  had  no  conveni¬ 
ent  vessels  with  them,  being  upon  a  journey,  where¬ 
with  to  take  up  water,  and  must  therefore  go  down 
into  it ;  not  that  they  stript  off  tneir  clothes,  ana 
went  naked  into  the  water,  but,  going  barefoot,  ac- 


THE  ACTS,  IX. 


87 


rording  to  the  custom,  they  went  perhaps  up  to  the 
ancles  or  mid-leg  into  the  water,  and  Philip  sprin¬ 
kled  water  upon  him,  according  to  the  prophecy 
which  this  eunuch  had  probably  but  just  now  read, 
for  it  was  but  a  few  verses  before  those  which  Philip 
found  him  upon,  and  was  very  apposite  to  his  case  ; 
(Isa.  52.  15.)  So  shall  he  sprinkle  many  nations, 
kings  and  great  men  shall  shut  their  mouths  at  him, 
shall  submit  to  him,  and  acquiesce  in  him,  for  that 
which  had  not  before  been  told  them  shall  they  see, 
and  that  which  they  had  not  heard  shall  they  con¬ 
sider.  Observe,  Though  Philip  had  very  lately 
been  deceived  in  Simon  Magus,  and  had  admitted 
him  to  baptism,  though  he  afterward  appeared  to 
be  no  true  convert,  yet  he  did  not  therefore  scruple 
to  baptize  the  eunuch  upon  his  profession  of  faith 
immediately,  without  putting  him  upon  a  longer 
trial  than  usual.  If  some  hypocrites  crowd  into  the 
church,  that  afterward  prove  a  grief  and  scandal  to 
us,  yet  we  must  not  therefore  make  the  door  of  ad¬ 
mission  any  straiter  than  Christ  has  made  it  ;  they 
shall  answer  for  their  apostacy,  and  not  we. 

VI.  Philip  and  the  eunuch  are  parted  presently  ; 
and  this  is  as  surprising  as  the  other  parts  of  the 
story.  One  would  have  expected  that  the  eunuch 
should  either  have  stayed  with  Philip,  or  have  taken 
him  along  with  him  into  his  own  country,  and,  there 
being  so  many  ministers  in  those  parts,  he  might  be 
spared,  and  it  would  be  worth  while  :  but  God  or¬ 
dered  otherwise  ;  as  soon  as  they  were  come  u/i  out 
of  the  water,  before  the  eunuch  went  into  his  chariot 
again,  the  Spirit  of  the  Lord  caught  away  Philip, 
( v .  39. )  and  did  not  give  him  time  to  make  an  ex¬ 
hortation  to  the  eunuch,  as  usual  after  baptism, 
which  it  is  probable  the  one  intended,  and  the  other 
expected  ;  but  his  sudden  departure  was  sufficient 
to  make  up  the  want  of  that  exhortation,  for  it  seems 
to  have  been  miraculous,  and  that  he  was  caught 
up  in  the  air  in  the  eunuch’s  sight,  and  so  carried 
out  of  his  sight ;  and  the  working  of  this  miracle 
upon  Philip,  was  a  confirmation  of  his  doctrine,  as 
much  as  the  working  of  a  miracle  by  him  would  have 
been.  He  was  caught  away,  and  the  eunuch  saw 
him  no  more,  but,  having  lost  his  minister,  returned 
to  the  use  of  his  Bible  again.  Now  here  we  are 
told, 

1.  How  the  eunuch  was  disposed  ;  he  went  on  his 
way  rejoicing  ;  he  pursued  his  journey,  business 
called  him  home,  and  he  must  hasten  to  it ;  for  it 
was  no  way  inconsistent  with  his  Christianity,  which 
places  no  sanctity  or  perfection  in  men’s  being  her¬ 
mits  or  recluses,  but  is  a  religion  which  men  may 
and  ought  to  carry  about  with  them  into  the  affairs 
of  this  life.  But  he  went  cn,  rejoicing  ;  so  far  was 
he  from  reflecting  upon  this  sudden  resolution  and 
change,  or  advancement  rather  in  his  religion,  with 
any  regret,  that  his  second  thoughts  confirmed  him 
abundantlv  in  it,  and  he  went  on,  rejoicing  with  joy 
unspeakable  and  full  of  glory  ;  he  was  never  better 
pleased  in  all  his  life.  (1.)  He  rejoiced  that  he  him¬ 
self  was  joined  to  Christ,  and  had  an  interest  in 
him.  And,  (2.)  That  he  had  these  good  tidings 
to  bring  to  his  countrymen,  and  a  prospect  of  bring¬ 
ing  them  also,  bv  virtue  of  his  interest  among  them, 
into  fellowship  with  Christ ;  for  he  returned,  not 
only  a  Christian,  but  a  minister.  Some  copies  read 
this  verse  thus  :  And  when  they  were  come  up  out 
of  the  water,  the  Idoly  Spirit  fell  upon  the  eunuch, 
(without  the  ceremony  of  the  apostle’s  imposition  of 
hands,)  but  the  angel  of  the  Lord  caught  away 
Philip. 

2.  How  Philip  was  disposed  of ;  (z».  40.)  He  was 
found  at  Azotus  or  Ashdocl,  formerly  a  city  of  the 
Philistines ;  there  the  angel  or  Spirit  of  the  Lord 
dropped  him,  which  was  above  thirty  miles  from 
Gaza,  whither  the  eunuch  wTas  going,  and  where 
Dr.  Lightfoot  thinks  he  took  ship,  and  went  by  sea 


into  his  own  country.  But  Philip,  wherever  he  was, 
would  not  be  idle  ;  jiassing  through,  he  preached  in 
all  the  cities  till  he  came  to  Caesarea,  and  there  he 
settled,  and,  lor  aught  that  appears,  had  his  princi¬ 
pal  residence  ever  after  ;  for  at  Caesarea  we  find  him 
in  a  house  of  his  own,  ch.  21.  8.  He  that  had  been 
faithful  in  working  for  Christ  as  an  itinerant,  at 
length  gains  a  settlement. 

CHAP.  IX. 

In  this  chapter,  we  have,  I.  T'he  famous  story  of  St.  Paul’s 
conversion  from  being  an  outrageous  persecutor  of  the 
gospel  of  Christ,  to  be  an  illustrious  professor  and  preacher 
of  it.  1.  How  he  was  first  awakened  and  wrought  upon  bv 
an  appearance  of  Christ  himself  to  him  as  he  was  goin®’ 
upon  an  errand  of  persecution  to  Damascus  :  and  what  a 
condition  he  was  in  while  lie  lay  under  the  power  of  those 
convictions  and  terrors,  v.  1  . .  9.  2.  How  he  was  baptized 
by  Ananias,  by  immediate-direction  from  heaven,  v.  10. .  19. 

3.  How  he  immediately  commenced  doctor,  and  preached 
the  faith  of  Christ,  and  proved  what  he  preached,  v.  20 . .  22. 

4.  How  he  was  persecuted,  and  narrowly  escaped  with  his 

life,  v.  23 .  .  25.  5.  How  he  was  admitted  among  the  bre¬ 

thren  at  Jerusalem  :  how  he  preached,  and  was  persecuted 
there,  v.  26 . .  30.  6.  The  rest  and  quietness  which  the 

churches  enjoyed  for  some  time  after  this,  v.  31.  II.  The 
cure  wfought  by  Peter  on  /Eneas,  who  had  long  been  laid 
up  of  a  palsy,  v.  32  . .  35.  III.  The  raising  of  Tabitha  from 
death  to  life,  at  the  prayer  of  Peter,  v.  36 . .  44. 

1.  A  ND  Saul,  yet  breathing  out  threat- 
LaL  enings  and  slaughter  against  the 
disciples  of  the  Lord,  went  unto  the  High- 
Priest,  2.  And  desired  of  him  letters  to  Da¬ 
mascus  to  the  synagogues,  that  if  he  found 
any  of  this  way,  whether  they  were  men  or 
women,  he  might  bring  them  bound  unto 
Jerusalem.  3.  And  as  he  journeyed,  he 
came  near  Damascus  :  and  suddenly  there 
shined  round  about  him  a  light  from  hea¬ 
ven  :  4.  And  he  fell  to  the  earth,  and  heard 
a  voice  saying  unto  him,  Saul,  Saul,  why 
persecutest  thou  me  ?  5.  And  he  said,  Who 
art  thou,  Lord  ?  And  the  Lord  said,  I  am 
Jesus  whom  thou  persecutest :  It  is  hard 
for  thee  to  kick  against  the  pricks.  6.  And 
he,  trembling  and  astonished,  said,  Lord, 
what  wilt  thou  have  me  to  do  ?  And  the 
Lord  said  unto  him,  Arise,  and  go  into  the 
city,  and  it  shall  be  told  thee  what  thou 
must  do.  7.  And  the  men  which  journeyed 
with  him  stood  speechless,  hearing  a  voice, 
but  seeing  no  man.  8.  And  Saul  arose 
from  the  earth ;  and  when  his  eyes  were 
opened,  he  saw  no  man  :  but  they  led  him 
by  the  hand,  and  brought  him  into  Damas¬ 
cus.  9.  And  he  was  three  days  without 
sight,  and  neither  did  eat  nor  drink. 

We  found  mention  made  of  Saul  twice  or  thrice 
in  the  story  of  Stephen,  for  the  sacred  penman  even 
longed  to  come  to  his  story  ;  and  now  we  are  come 
to  it,  not  quite  taking  leave  of  Peter ;  but  from 
henceforward  being  mostly  taken  up  with  Paul  the 
apostle  of  the  Gentiles,  as  Peter  was  of  the  circum¬ 
cision.  His  name  in  Hebrew,  was,  Saul — desired, 
though  as  remarkably  little  in  stature  as  his  name¬ 
sake  king  Saul  was  tall  and  stately  ;  one  of  the  an¬ 
cients  calls  him,  Homo  tricubitalis — but  four  foot 
and  a  half  in  height ;  his  Roman  name  which  he 
went  by  among  the  citizens  of  Rome,  was,  Paul — 
little.  He  was  born  in  Tarsus,  a  city  of  Cilicia,  a 
free  city  of  the  Romans,  and  himself  a  freeman  of 


83 


THE  ACTS,  IX. 


that  city.  His  father  and  mother  were  both  native 
Jews,  therefore  he  calls  himself  a  Hebrew  of  the 
Hebrews;  he  was  of  the  tribe  of  Benjamin,  which 
adhered  to  Judah.  His  education  was  in  the  schools 
of  Tarsus  first,  which  was  a  little  Athens  for  learn¬ 
ing  ;  there  he  acquainted  himself  with  the  philoso¬ 
phy  and  poetry  ot  the  Greeks.  Thence  he  was  sent 
to  the  university  at  Jerusalem,  to  study  divinity  and 
the  Jewish  law  ;  his  tutor  was  Gamaliel  an  eminent 
Pharisee  ;  he  had  extraordinary  natural  parts,  and 
improved  mightily  in  learning ;  he  had  likewise  a 
handicraft  trade,  was  bred  to  tent-making  ;  which 
was  common  with  those  among  the  Jews  that  were 
bred  scholars,  (as  Dr.  Lightfoot  saith,)  for  the  earn¬ 
ing  of  their  maintenance,  and  the  avoiding  of  idle¬ 
ness. 

This  is  the  young  man  on  whom  the  grace  of  God 
wrought  this  mighty  change  here  recorded,  about  a 
year  after  the  ascension  of  Christ,  or  little  more.  ! 
We  are  here  told, 

I.  How  bad  he  was,  how  very  bad,  before  his  con¬ 
version  ;  just  before  he  was  an  inveterate  enemy  to 
Christianity,  did  his  utmost  to  root  it  out,  by  perse¬ 
cuting  all  that  embraced  it.  In  other  respects  he 
was  well  enough,  as  touching  the  righteousness  which 
is  of  the  law,  blameless,  a  man  of  no  ill  morals,  but 
a  blasphemer  of  Christ,  a  persecutor  of  Christians, 
and  injurious  to  both,  1  Tim.  1.  13.  And  so  ill  in¬ 
formed  was  his  conscience,  that  he  thought  he  ought 
to  do  what  he  did  against  the  name  of  Christ,  ( ch . 
26.  9.)  and  that  he  did  God  service  in  it,  as  was 
foretold,  John  16.  2.  Here  we  have, 

1.  His  general  enmity  and  rage  against  the  Chris¬ 
tian  religion  ;  (v.  1.)  He  yet  breathed  out  threaten- 
ings  and  slaughter  against  the  disci/iles  of  the  Lord. 
The  persons  persecuted  were  the  disciples  of  the 
Lord  ;  because  they  were  so,  under  that  character 
he  hated  and  persecuted  them  ;  the  matter  of  the 
persecution,  was,  threatenings  and  slaughter.  There 
is  persecution  in  threatenings  ;  (ch.  4.  17,  21.)  they 
terrify  and  break  the  spirit :  and  though  we  say, 

I  hreatened  folks  live  long ;  yet  those  whom  Saul 
threatened,  if  he  prevailed  not  thereby  to  frighten 
them  from  Christ,  he  slew  them,  he  persecuted 
them  to  death,  ch.  22.  4.  His  breathing  out  threat¬ 
enings  and  slaughter  intimates  that  it  was  natural  to 
him,  and  his  constant  business  ;  he  even  breathed 
in  this  as  in  his  element ;  he  breathed  it  out  with 
heat  and  vehemence  ;  his  very  breath,  like  that  of 
some  venomous  creature,  was  pestilential,  he 
breathed  death  to  the  Christians,  wherever  he  came; 
he  puffed  at  them  in  his  pride,  (Ps.  12.  4,  5.)  spit 
his  venom  at  them  in  his  rage.  Saul  yet  breathing 
thus  ;  it  intimates,  (1.)  That  he  still  persisted  in  it ; 
not  satisfied  with  the  blood  of  those  he  had  slain,  he 
still  cries,  Give,  give.  (2.)  That  he  shall  shortly 
be  of  another  mind  ;  as  yet  he  breathes  out  threat¬ 
enings  and  slaughter,  but  he  has  not  long  to  live  such 
a  life  as  this,  that  breath  will  be  stopped  shortly. 

2.  His  particular  design  upon  the  Christians  at 
Damascus ;  thither  was  the  gospel  now  lately  ear¬ 
ned  by  those  that  fled  from  the  persecution  of  Ste¬ 
phen’s  death,  and  thought  to  be  safe  and  quiet  there, 
and  were  connived  at  by  those  in  power  there  :  but 
Saul  cannot  lie  easy  if  he  knows  a  Christian  is  quiet ; 
and  therefore  hearing  that  the  Christians  in  Damas¬ 
cus  were  so,  he  resolves  to  give  them  disturbance. 
In  order  to  this,  he  applies  himself  to  the  High- 
Priest  for  a  commission  (v.  1.)  to  goto  Damascus, 
v.  2.  The  High-Priest  needed  not' to  be  stirred  up 
to  persecute  the  Christians,  he  was  forward  enough 
of  himself  to  do  it ;  but  it  seems  the  young  persecu¬ 
tor  drove  more  furiously  than  the  old  one.  Leaders 
in  sin  'are  the  worst  of  sinners  :  and  the  proselytes 
which  the  Scribes  and  Pharisees  make,  often  prove 
seven  times  more  the  children  of  hell  than  them¬ 
selves.  He  saith  (ch.  22.  5.)  that  this  commission  li 


j  was  had  from  the  whole  estate  of  the  elders  •  and 
]  proud  enough  this  furious  bigot  was,  to  have  a  com¬ 
mission  to  him  directed,  with  the  seal  of  the  great 
Sanhedrim  affixed  to  it. 

Now  the  commission  was  to  empower  him  to  in¬ 
quire  among  the  synagogues,  or  congregations,  of  the 
Jews  that  were  at  Damascus,  whether  there  were 
any  that  belonged  to  them,  that  inclined  to  favour 
this  new  sect  or  heresy,  that  believed  in  Christ ;  and 
if  he  found  any  such,  whether  men  or  women,  to 
bring  them  up  prisoners  to  Jerusalem,  to  be  pro 
ceeded  against  according  to  law  by  the  great  coun 
cil  there.  Observe,  (1.)  The  Christians  are  here 
said  to  be  those  of  this  way  ;  those  of  the  way :  so  it 
is  in  the  original.  Perhaps  the  Christians  some¬ 
times  called  themselves  so,  from  Christ  the  Way ; 
or,  because  they  looked  on  themselves  as  but  in  the 
way,  and  not  yet  at  home  ;  or,  the  enemies  thus  re¬ 
presented  it  as  a  way  by  itself,  a  by-way,  a  party, 
a  faction.  (2.)  The  High-Priest  and  Sanhedrim 
claimed  a  power  over  the  Jews  in  all  countries,  and 
had  a  deference  paid  to  their  authority  in  matters 
of  religion,  by  all  their  synagogues,  even  those  that 
were  not  of  the  jurisdiction  of  the  civil  government 
of  the  Jewish  nation. — And  such  a  sovereignty  the 
Roman  pontiff  now  claims,  as  the  Jewish  pontiff 
then  did,  though  he  has  not  so  much  to  shew  for  it. 
(2.)  By  this  commission,  all  that  worshipped  God 
in  the  way  that  they  called  heresy,  though  agreeing 
exactly  with  the  original  institutes,  even  of  the  Jew¬ 
ish  church,  whether  they  were  men  or  women,  were 
to  be  persecuted.  Even  the  weaker  sex,  who  in  a 
case  of  this  nature  might  deserve  excuse,  or  at  least 
compassion,  shall  find  neither  with  Saul,  any  more 
than  they  do  with  the  Popish  persecutors.  (4.)  He 
was  ordered  to  bring  them  all  bound  to  Jerusalem, 
as  criminals  of  the  first  magnitude  ;  which,  as  it 
would  be  the  more  likely  to  terrify  them,  so  it  would 
be  to  magnify  Saul,  as  having  the  command  of  the 
forces  that  were  to  carry  them  up,  and  opportunity 
of  breathing  out  threatenings  and  slaughter.  Thus 
was  Saul  employed  when  the  grace  of  God  wrought 
that  great  change  in  him.  Let  not  us  then  despair 
of  renewing  grace  for  the  conversion  of  the  greatest 
sinners,  nor  let  such  despair  of  the  pardoning  mercy 
of  God  for  the  greatest  sin  ;  for  Paul  himself  obtain¬ 
ed  merev,  that  he  might  be  a  monument,  1  Tim.  1. 
13. 

II.  How  suddenly  and  strangely  a  blessed  change 
was  wrought  in  him,  not  in  the  use  of  any  ordinary 
means,  but  by  miracles.  The  conversion  of  Paul  is 
one  of  the  wonders  of  the  church. 

Here  is,  1.  The  place  and  time  of  it ;  as  he  jour¬ 
neyed,  he  came  near  to  Damascus ;  and  there  Christ 
met  with  him. 

(1.)  He  was  in  the  way,  travelling  upon  his  jour¬ 
ney  ;  not  in  the  templer  or  in  the  synagogue,  or  in 
the  meeting  of  Christians,  but  by  the  way.  The 
work  of  conversion  is  not  tied  to  the  church,  though 
ordinarily  public  administrations  are  made  use  of. 
Some  are  reclaimed  in  slumberings  on  the  bed, 
(Job  33.  15,  17.)  and  some  in  travelling  upon  the 
road  alone  ;  thoughts  are  as  free,  and  there  is  as 
good  an  opportunity  of  communing  with  our  own 
hearts  there,  as  upon  the  bed  ;  and  there  the  Spirit 
may  set  in  with  us  ;  for  that  wind  blows  where  it 
listeth.  Some  observe,  that  Saul  was  spoken  to 
abroad  in  the  open  air,  that  there  might  be  no  sus¬ 
picion  of  imposture,  or  a  trick  put  upon  him  in  it. 

(2.)  He  was  near  Damascus,  almost  at  his  jour¬ 
ney’s  end,  ready  to  enter  the  city,  the  chief  city  of 
Syria.  Some  observe,  that  he  who  was  to  be  the 
apostle  of  the  Gentiles,  was  converted  to  the  faith 
of  Christ  in  a  Gentile  country.  Damascus  had  been 
infamous  for  persecuting  God’s  people  formerly, 
thev  threshed  Gilead  with  threshing  instruments  of 
iron,  (Amos  1.3.)  and  now  it  w'as  likely  to  be  so  again. 


JTHE  ACTS,  IX. 


(3.)  He  was  in  a  wicked  way;  pursuing  his  de¬ 
sign  against  the  Christians  at  Damascus,  and  pleas¬ 
ing  himself  with  the  thought  that  he  should  devour 
this  new-born  child  of  Christianity  there.  Note, 
Sometimes  the  grace  of  God  works  upon  sinners, 
when  they  are  at  the  worst,  and  hotly  engaged  in 
the  most  desperate  sinful  pursuits ;  which  is  much 
for  the  glory  both  of  God’s  pity,  and  of  his  power. 

(4.)  The  cruel  edict  and  decree  he  had  with  him 
drew  near  to  be  put  in  execution  ;  and  now  it  was 
happily  prevented. — Which  may  be  considered,  [  1.  ] 
As  a  great  kindness  to  the  poor  saints  at  Damascus, 
who  had  notice  of  his  coming,  as  appears  by  what 
Ananias  said,  (x\  13,  14.)  and  were  apprehensive  of 
their  danger  from  him,  and  trembled  as  poor  lambs 
at  the  approach  of  a  ravening  wolf ;  Saul’s  conver¬ 
sion  was  their  security  for  the  present.  Christ  has 
many  ways  of  delivering  the  godly  out  of  tempta¬ 
tion,  and  sometimes  does  it  by  a  change  wrought  in 
their  persecutors,  either  restraining  their  wrathful 
spirits,  (Ps.  76.  10.)  and  mollifying  them  for  a  time, 
as  the  Old  Testament  Saul,  who  relented  toward 
David  more  than  once;  (1  Sam.  24.  16. — 26.  21.) 
or,  renewing  their  spirits,  and  fixing  upon  them  du¬ 
rable  impressions,  as  upon  the  New  Testament  Saul 
here.  [2.]  It  was  also  a  very  great  mercy  to  Saul 
himself  to  be  hindered  from  executing  his  wicked 
design,  in  which  if  he  had  now  proceeded,  perhaps 
it  had  been  the  filling  up  of  the  measure  of  his  ini¬ 
quity.  Note,  It  is  to  be  valued  as  a  signal  token  of 
the  divine  favour,  if  God,  either  by  the  inward  ope¬ 
rations  of  his  grace,  or  the  outward  occurrences  of 
his  providence,  prevent  us  from  prosecuting  and  ex¬ 
ecuting  a  sinful  purpose,  1  Sam.  25.  32. 

2.  The  appearance  of  Christ  to  him  in  his  glory  ; 
here  it  is  only  said,  that  there  shined  round  about 
him  a  light  from  heaven ;  but  it  appears  by  what 
follows,  (v.  17. )  that  the  Lord  Jesus  was  in  this  light, 
and  appeared  to  him  by  the  way.  He  saw  that  Just 
One,  (c/2.  22.  14.)  and  see  ch.  26.  13.  Whether  he 
saw  him  at  a  distance,  as  Stephen  saw  him,  in  the 
heavens,  or  nearer  in  the  air,  is  not  certain.  It  is 
not  inconsistent  with  what  is  said  of  the  heavens  re¬ 
ceiving  Christ  till  the  end  of  time,  (ch.  3.  21.)  to 
suppose  that  he  did,  upon  such  an  extraordinary 
occasion  as  this,  make  a  personal  visit,  but  a  very 
short  one,  to  this  lower  world  ;  it  was  necessary  to 
Paul’s  being  an  apostle,  that  he  should  have  seen 
the  Lord,  and  so  he  did,  1  Cor.  9.  1. — 15.  8. 

(1.)  This  light  shined  upon  him  suddenly — 
i gcu'<*>y>i(,  when  Paul  never  thought  of  any  such 
thing,  and  without  any  previous  warning.  Christ’s 
manifestations  of  himself  to  poor  souls,  are  many 
times  sudden  and  very  surprising,  and  he  prevents 
them  with  the  blessings  ot  his  goodness.  This  the 
disciples  that  Christ  called  to  himself,  found.  Or 
ever  I  was  aware,  Cant.  6.  12. 

(2.)  It  was  a  light  from  heaven,  the  fountain  of 
light,  from  the  God  of  heaven,  the  Father  of  lights. 
It  was  a  light  above  the  brightness  of  the  sun,  (ch. 
26.  13.)  for  it  was  visible  at  mid-day,  and  outshone 
the  sun  in  his  meridian  strength  and  lustre,  Isa. 
24.  23. 

(3.)  It  shone  round  about  him,  not  in  his  face 
only,  but  on  everv  side  of  him  ;  let  him  turn  which 
way  he  will,  he  finds  himself  surrounded  with  the 
discoveries  of  it.  And  this  was  designed  not  only  to 
startle  him,  and  awaken  his  attention,  for  well  may 
he  expect  to  hear,  when  he  is  thus  made  to  see 
something  very  extraordinary,  but  to  signify  the  en¬ 
lightening  of  his  understanding  with  the  knowledge 
of  Christ.  The  devil  comes  to  the  soul  in  darkness, 
by  it  he  gets  and  keeps  possession  of  it.  But  Christ 
comes  to  the  soul  in  light,  for  he  is  himself  the  light 
of  the  world,  bright  and  glorious  in  himself,  benefi¬ 
cial  and  gracious  to  us,  as  light.  The  first  thing  in 
this  new  creation,  as  in  that  of  the  world,  is,  light, 

Vol  vi. — M 


89 

I  2  Cor.  4.  6.  Hence  all  Christians  are  said  to  be 
!  children  of  the  light  and  of  the  day,  Eph.  5.  8. 

3.  The  arresting  of  Saul,  and  his  detachment ; 

|  He  fell  to  the  earth,  v.  4.  Some  think  that  he  was 
on  foot,  and  that  this  light,  which  perhaps  was  ac- 
l  companied  with  a  thunder-clap,  so  terrified  him, 
that  he  could  not  keep  his  feet,  but  fell  upon  his 
j  face,  usually  a  posture  of  adoration,  but  here  of  as- 
!  tonishment.  It  is  probable  that  he  was  mounted,  as 
I  Balaam,  when  he  went  to  curse  Israel,  and  perhaps 
j  better  mounted  than  he  ;  for  Saul  was  now  in  a  pub- 
I  lie  post,  was  in  haste,  and  the  journey  was  long,  so 
I  that  it  is  not  likely  he  should  travel  on  foot.  The 
[  sudden  light  would  frighten  the  beasi  he  rode  on, 
and  make  it  throw  him  :  and  it  was  God’s  good  pro¬ 
vidence  that  his  body  got  no  hurt  by  the  fall :  but 
angels  had  a  particular  charge  concerning  him  to 
keep  all  his  bones,  so  th.at  not  one  of  them  was  bro¬ 
ken.  It  appears,  (ch.  26.  14.)  that  all  that  were 
with  him  fell  to  the  earth  as  well  as  he,  but  the  de¬ 
sign  was  upon  him.  This  may  be  considered, 

(1.)  As  the  effect  of  Christ’s  appearing  to  him, 
and  of  the  light  which  shone  round  about  him. 
Note,  Christ’s  manifestations  of  himself  to  poor 
souls  are  humbling ;  they  lay  them  very  low,  in 
mean  thoughts  of  themselves,  and  an  humble  sub¬ 
mission  to  the  will  of  God.  Now  mine  eyes  ste  thee, 
saith  Job,  I  abhor  myself.  I  saw  the  Lord,  saith 
Isaiah,  sitting  upon  a  throne,  and  I  said,  Woe  is  me, 
for  I  am  undone. 

(2.)  As  a  step  toward  his  intended  advancement. 
He  is  designed  not  only  to  be  a  Christian,  but  to  be  a 
minister,  an  apostle,  a  great  apostle,  and  therefore 
he  must  thus  be  cast  down.  Note,  Those  w’hom 
Christ  designs  for  the  greatest  honours,  are  com¬ 
monly  first  laid  low.  Those  who  are  designed  to 
excel  in  knowledge  and  grace,  are  commonly  laid 
low  first,  in  a  sense  of  their  own  ignorance  and  sin¬ 
fulness.  Those  whom  God  will  employ,  are  first 
struck  with  a  sense  of  their  unworthiness  to  be  em¬ 
ployed. 

(4.)  The  arraigning  of  Saul.  Being  by  the  fall 
taken  into  custody,  and  as  it  were  set  to  the  bar,  he 
heard  a  voice  saying  to  him,  (and  it  was  distinguish¬ 
ing  to  him  only,  for  though  they  that  were  with  him 
heard  a  sound,  (v.  7.)  yet  they  knew  not  the  words, 
ch.  22.  9,)  Saul,  Saul,  why  persecutest  thou  me? 
Observe  here, 

(1.)  Saul  not  only  saw  a  light  from  heaven,  but 
heard  a  voice  from  heaven  ;  wherever  the  glory  of 
God  was  seen,  the  word  of  God  was  heard  ;  God’s 
manifestations  of  himself  were  never  dumb  shews, 
for  he  magnifies  his  word  above  all  his  name,  and 
what  was  seen  was  always  designed  to  make  way 
for  what  was  said  ;  Saul  heard  a  voice.  Note,  Faith 
comes  by  hearing  ;  hence  the  Spirit  is  said  to  be  re¬ 
ceived  by  the  hearing  of  faith,  Gal.  3.  2.  The  voice 
he  heard  was  the  voice  of  Christ  :  when  he  saw  that 
just  One  ;  he  heard  the  voice  of  his  mouth,  ch.  22. 
14.  Note,  Then  the  word  we  hear  is  likely  toprefit 
us,  when  we  hear  it  as  the  voice  of  Christ,  1  Thess. 
2.  13.  It  is  the  voice  of  my  beloved  ;  no  voice  but 
his  can  reach  the  heart.  Seeing  and  hearing  are  the 
two  learning  senses  ;  Christ  here,  by  both  those 
doors,  entered  into  Saul’s  heart. 

(2.)  What  he  heard  was  very  awakening. 

[1.]  He  was-  called  by  his  name,  and  that  dou¬ 
bled  ;  Saul,  Saul.  Some  think,  in  calling  him  Saul, 
he  hints  at  that  great  persecutor  of  David,  whose 
name  he  bore.  He  was  indeed  a  second  Saul,  and 
such  an  enemy  to  the  Son  of  David  as  he  was  to  Da¬ 
vid.  Calling  him  by  his  name  intimates  the  parti¬ 
cular  regard  that  Christ  had  to  him  ;  I  have  sur- 
named  thee,  though  thou  hast  not  known  me,  Isa. 
45.  4.  See  Exod.  33.  12.  His  calling  him  by  name 
brought  the  conviction  home  to  his  conscience,  and 
put  it  past  dispute  to  whom  the  voice  spake  this. 


90 


THE  ACTS,  IX. 


Note,  What  God  speaks  in  general,  is  then  likely  to 
do  us  good,  when  we  apply  it  to  ourselves,  and  insert 
our  own  names  into  the  precepts  and  promises  which 
are  expressed  generally  ;  as  if  God  spake  to  us  by 
name,  and  when  he  saith,  Ho,  every  one,  he  had 
said,  Ho,  such  a  one :  Samuel,  Samuel ;  Saul,  Saul. 

The  doubling  of  it,  Saul,  Saul,  intimates,  First, 
The  deep  sleep  that  Saul  was  in  ;  he  needed  to  be 
called  again  and  again,  as  Jer.  22.  29.  0  earth, 
earth,  earth .  Secondly,  The  tender  concern  that 
the  blessed  Jesus  had  for  him,  and  for  his  recovery  ; 
he  speaks  as  one  in  earnest ;  it  is  like  Martha,  Mar¬ 
tha,  (Luke  10.  41.)  or  Simon,  Simon,  (Luke  22.  31.) 
or  0  Jerusalem,  Jerusalem,  Matt.  23.  37.  He  speaks 
to  him  as  to  one  in  imminent  danger,  at  the  pit’s 
brink,  and  just  ready  to  drop  in  ;  “  Saul,  Saul,  dost 
thou  know  whither  thou  art  going,  and  what  thou 
art  doing  ?” 

[2.]  The  charge  exhibited  against  him,  is,  Why 
fiersecvtest  thou  me?  Observe  here,  First,  Before 
Saul  was  made  a  saint,  he  is  made  to  see  himself  a 
sinner,  a  great  sinner,  a  sinner  against  Christ.  Now 
he  was  made  to  see  that  evil  by  himself  which  he 
never  saw  before  ;  sin  revived  and  he  died.  Note, 
A  humbling  conviction  of  sin  is  the  first  step  to¬ 
wards  a  saving  conversion  from  sin.  Secondly,  He 
is  convinced  of  one  particular  sin,  which  he  was 
most  notoriously  guilty  of,  and  had  justified  himself 
in,  and  thereby  way  is  made  for  his  conviction  of  all 
the  rest.  Thirdly,  The  sin  he  is  convinced  of,  is, 
persecution  ;  Why  fiersecutest  thou  me  ?  It  is  a  very 
affectionate  expostulation,  enough  to  melt  a  heart  of 
stone.  Observe,  1.  The  person  sinning ;  “  It  is  thou  ; 
thou,  that  art  not  one  of  the  ignorant,  rude,  unthink¬ 
ing  crowd,  that  will  run  down  any  thing  they  hear 
put  into  an  ill  name,  but  thou  that  hast  had  a  libe¬ 
ral,  learned  education,  hast  good  parts  and  accom¬ 
plishments,  hast  the  knowledge  of  the  scriptures, 
which,  if  duly  considered,  would  shew  thee  the 
folly  of  it.  It  is  worse  in  thee  than  in  another.”  2. 
The  person  sinned  against  ;  “  It  is  I,  who  never  did 
thee  any  harm,  who  came  from  heaven  to  earth  to 
do  thee  good  ;  who  was  not  long  since  crucified  for 
thee  ;  and  was  that  not  enough,  but  must  I  afresh 
be  crucified  by  thee  ?”  3.  The  kind  and  continu¬ 
ance  of  the  sin.  It  was  persecution,  and  he  was  at 
this  time  engaged  in  it ;  “Not  only  thou  hast  per¬ 
secuted,  but  thou  persecutest,  thou  persistest  in  it.” 
He  was  not  at  this  time  haling  any  to  prison,  or  kill¬ 
ing  them  :  but  that  was  the  errand  he  came  upon  to 
Damascus  ;  he  was  now  projecting  it,  and  pleasing 
himself  with  the  thought  of  it.  Note,  They  that 
are  designing  mischief,  are,  in  God’s  account,  doing 
mischief.  4.  The  question  put  to  him  upon  it ; 
“  Why  dost  thou  do  it  ?”  ( 1. )  It  is  complaining  lan¬ 
guage.  “  Why  dealest  thou  unjustly,  thus  unkindly, 
with  my  disciples  ?”  Christ  never  complained  so 
much  of  those  who  persecuted  him  in  his  own  per¬ 
son  as  he  did  here  of  those  who  persecuted  him  in 
his  followers.  He  complains  of  it  as  it  was  Saul’s 
sin;  “Why  art  thou  such  an  enemy  to  thyself,  to 
thy  God  ?”  Note,  The  sins  of  sinners  are  a  very 
grievous  burthen  to  the  Lord  Jesus.  He  is  grieved 
for  them,  (Mark  3.  5. )  he  is  pressed  under  them, 
Amos  2.  13.  (2.)  It  is  convincing  language,  “Why 

dost  thou  thus  ?  Canst  thou  give  any  good  reason 
for  it  ?”  Note,  Tt  is  good  for  us  often  to  ask  our¬ 
selves  why  we  do  so  and  so,  that  we  may  discern 
what  an  unreasonable  thing  sin  is :  and  of  all  sins 
none  so  unreasonable,  so  unaccountable,  as  the  sin 
of  persecuting  the  disciples  of  Christ,  especially 
when  it  is  discovered  to  be,  as  certainly  it  is,  perse¬ 
cuting  Christ.  Those  have  no  knowledge,  who  eat 
up  God’s  people,  Ps.  14.  4.  J17iy  fiersecutest  thou 
me?  He  thought  he  was  persecuting  only  a  com¬ 
pany  of  poor,  weak,  silly  people,  that  were  an  of¬ 
fence  and  eye-sore  to  the  Pharisees,  little  imagining 


that  it  was  one  in  heaven  that  he  was  all  this  while 
insulting  ;  for  surely  if  he  had  known,  he  would  not 
have  persecuted  the  Lord  of  glory.  Note,  Those 
who  persecute  the  saints,  persecute  Christ  himself, 
and  he  takes  what  is  done  against  them  as  done 
against  himself,  and  accordingly  will  be  the  judg¬ 
ment  in  the  great  day,  Matt.  25.  45. 

5.  Saul’s  question  upon  his  indictment,  and  the  re¬ 
ply  to  it,  v.  5. 

(1.)  He  makes  inquiry  concerning  Christ ;  Who 
art  thou.  Lord  ?  He  gives  no  direct  answer  to  the 
charge  preferred  against  him,  being  convicted  by 
his  own  conscience,  and  self-condemned.  If  God 
contend  with  us  for  our  sins,  we  are  not  able  to  an¬ 
swer  for  one  of  a  thousand,  especially  such  a  one  as 
the  sin  of  persecution.  Convictions  of  sin,  when 
tbey  are  set  home  with  power  upon  the  conscience, 
will  silence  all  excuses  and  self-justifications. 
Though  I  were  righteous,  yet  would  I  not  answer. 
But  he  desires  to  know  who  is  his  judge  ;  the  com- 
pellation  is  respectful ;  Lord.  He  who  had  been  a 
blasphemer  of  Christ’s  name,  now  speaks  to  him  as 
his  Lord.  The  question  is  proper,  Who  art  thou  ? 
This  implies  his  present  unacquaintedness  with 
Christ  ;  he  knew  not  his  voice  as  his  own  sheep  do, 
but  he  desires  to  be  acquainted  with  him  ;  he  is  con¬ 
vinced  by  this  light  which  incloses  him,  that  it  is 
one  from  heaven  that  speaks  to  him,  and  he  has  a 
veneration  for  every  thing  that  appears  to  him  to 
come  from  heaven  ;  and  therefore,  Lord,  who  art 
thou?  What  is  thy  name ?  Judg.  13.  17.  Gen.  32. 
29.  Note,  There  is  then  some  hope  of  people,  when 
they  begin  to  inquire  after  Jesus  Christ. 

(2.)  He  has  an  answer  immediately,  in  which  we 
have, 

[1.]  Christ’s  gracious  revelation  of  himself  to  him. 
He  is  always  ready  to  answer  the  serious  inquiries 
of  those  who  covet  an  acquaintance  with  him.  I  am 
Jesus  whom  thou  persecutest.  The  name  of  Jesus 
was  not  unknown  to  him,  his  heart  had  risen  against 
it  many  a  time,  and  gladly  would  he  bury  it  in  obli¬ 
vion  ;  he  knew  it  was  the  name  that  he  persecuted, 
but  little  did  he  think  to  hear  it  from  heaven,  or 
from  the  midst  of  such  a  glory  as  now  shone  round 
about  him.  Note,  Christ  brings  souls  into  fellow¬ 
ship  with  himself,  by  manifesting  himself  to  them. 
He  said,  First,  I  am  Jesus,  a  Saviour,  I  am  Jesus 
of  Nazareth,  so  it  is,  ch.  22.  8.  Saul  used  to  call 
him  so  when  he  blasphemed  him  ;  “  I  am  that  very 
Jesus  whom  thou  usedst  to  call  in  scorn  Jesus 
Nazareth.  And  he  would  shew  that  now  that  he 
is  in  glory,  he  is  not  ashamed  of  his  humiliation.  Se¬ 
condly,  “  lam  that  Jesus  whom  thou  persecutest, 
and  therefore  it  is  at  thy  peril  if  thou  persist  in 
this  wicked  course.”  There  is  nothing  more  effec¬ 
tual  to  awaken  and  humble  the  soul  than  to  see  sin 
to  be  against  Christ,  an  affront  to  him,  and  a  con¬ 
tradiction  to  his  designs. 

[2.]  His  gentle  reproof  of  him  ;  It  is  hard  for  thee 
to  kick  against  the  pricks,  or  goads  ;  to  spurn  at  the 
spur.  It  is  hard,  it  is  in  itself  an  absurd  and  evil 
thing,  and  will  be  of  fatal  consequence  to  him  that 
does  it.  Those  kick  at  the  goad,  that  stifle  and 
smother  the  convictions  of  conscience,  that  rebel 
against  God’s  truths  and  laws,  that  quarrel  with  his 
providences,  and  that  persecute  and  oppose  hismin- 
isters,  because  they  reprove  (hem,  and  their  words 
are  as  goads  and  as  nails.  They  that  revolt  more 
and  more,  when  they  are  stricken  by  the  word  or 
rod  of  God,  that  are  enraged  at  reproofs,  and  fly  in 
the  face  of  their  reprovers,  they  kick  against  the 
pricks,  and  will  have  a  deal  to  answer  for. 

6.  His  surrender  of  himself  to  the  Lord  Jesus  at 
length,  v.  6.  See  here, 

(1.)  The  frame  and  temper  he  was  in,  when 
Christ  had  been  dealing  with  him.  [1.]  He  trem¬ 
bled,  as  one  in  a  great  fright.  Note,  Strong  convic- 


91 


THE  AC 

tions,  set  home  by  the  blessed  Spirit,  will  make  an 
awakened  soul  to  tremble.  How  can  those  choose 
but  tremble,  that  are  made  to  see  the  eternal  God 
provoked  against  them,  the  whole  creation  at  war 
with  them,  and  their  own  souls  upon  the  brink  of 
ruin  !  [2.]  He  was  astonished,  was  filled  with 

amazement,  as  one  brought  into  a  new  world,  that 
knew  not  where  he  was.  Note,  The  convincing, 
converting,  work  of  Christ  is  astonishing  to  the 
awakened  soul,  and  fills  it  with  admiration.  “  What 
is  this  that  God  has  done  with  me,  and  what  will 
he  do  ?” 

(2. )  His  address  to  Jesus  Christ,  when  he  was  in 
this  frame ;  Lord,  what  wilt  thou  have  me  to  do  ? 
Which  may  be  taken,  [1.]  As  a  serious  request  for 
Christ’s  teachings;  “Lord,  I  see  I  have  hitherto 
been  out  of  the  way  ;  thou  that  hast  shewed  me  my 
error,  set  me  to  rights  ;  thou  hast  discovered  s*in  to 
me,  discover  to  me  the  way  to  pardon  and  peace.  ”  It 
is  like  that,  Men  and  brethren,  what  must  we  do  ? 
Note,  A  serious  desire  to  be  instructed  by  Christ  in 
the  way  of  salvation  is  an  evidence  of  a  good  work 
began  in  the  soul.  Or,  [2.]  As  a  sincere  resignation 
of  himself  to  the  conduct  and  government  of  the 
Lord  Jesus.  This  was  the  first  word  that  grace 
spake  in.  Paul,  and  with  this  began  a  spiritual  life  ; 
Lord  Jesus,  What  wilt  thou  have  me  to  do  ?  Did  not 
he  know  what  he  had  to  do  ?  Had  he  not  his  com¬ 
mission  in  his  pocket  ?  And  what  hacj  he  to  do  but 
to  execute  it  ?  No,  he  had  done  enough  of  this  work 
already,  and  resolves  now  to  change  his  master, 
and  employ  himself  better.  Now  it  is  not,  What 
will  the  High-Priest  and  the  elders  have  me  to  do  ? 
What  will  my  own  wicked  appetites  and  passions 
have  me  to  do  ?  But,  What  wilt  thou  have  me  to  do  ? 
The  great  change  in  conversion  is  wrought  upon  the 
will,  and  consists  in  the  resignation  of  that  to  the 
will  of  Christ. 

(3.)  The  general  direction  Christ  gave  him,  in 
answer  to  this  ;  Arise,  go  into  the  city  of  Damascus, 
which  thou  art  now  near  to,  and  it  shall  be  told  thee 
what  thou  must  do.  It  is  encouragement  enough  to 
have  further  instruction  promised  him  ;  but,  [1.] 
He  must  not  have  it  yet ;  it  shall  be  told  him  shortly 
what  he  must  do,  but,  for  the  present,  he  must  pause 
upon  what  has  been  said  to  him,  and  improve  that. 
Let  him  consider  a  while  what  he  has  done  in  per¬ 
secuting  Christ,  and  be  deeply  humbled  for  that, 
and  then  he  shall  be  told  what  he  has  further  to  uo. 

J2.]  He  must  not  have  it  in  this  way,  by  a  voice 
rom  heaven,  for  it  is  plain  he  cannot  bear  it ;  he 
trembles,  and  is  astonished ;  he  shall  be  told  there¬ 
fore  what  he  must  do,  by  a  man  like  himself,  whose 
terror  shall  not  make  him  afraid,  nor  his  hand  be 
heavy  upon  him  ;  which  Israel  desired  at  mount 
Sinai.  Or,  it  is  an  intimation  that  Christ  would  take 
some  other  time  to  manifest  himself  further  to  him, 
when  he  was  more  composed,  and  this  fright  pretty 
well  over.  Christ  manifests  himself  to  his  people 
by  degrees  ;  and  both  what  he  does,  and  would  have 
them  to  do,  though  they  know  not  now,  they  shall 
know  hereafter. 

7.  How  far  his  fellow-travellers  were  affected 
with  this,  and  what  impression  it  made  upon  them. 
They  fell  to  the  earth,  as  he  did,  but  rose  without 
oeing  bidden,  which  he  did  not,  but  lay  still  till  it 
was  said  to  him,  Arise  ;  for  he  lav  under  a  heavier 
load  than  any  of  them  did  ;  but  when  they  were  up, 
(1.)  They  stood  speechless,  as  men  in  confusion, 
and  that  was  all,  v.  7.  They  were  going  on  the 
same  wicked  errand  that  Paul  was,  and  perhaps, 
to  the  best  of  their  power,  were  as  spiteful  as  he  ; 
yet  we  do  not  find  that  any  of  them  were  converted, 
though  they  saw  the  light,  and  were  struck  down, 
and  struck  dumb  by  it.  No  external  means  will, 
jf  themselves,  work  a  change  in  the  soul,  without 
the  Spirit  and  grace  of  God,  which  distinguishes 


TS,  IX. 

between  some  and  others :  among  these  that  jour¬ 
neyed  together,  one  is  taken,  and  the  others  left. 
They  stood  speechless ;  none  of  them  said,  Who 
art  thou,  Lord?  or,  What  wilt  thou  have  me  to 
do  ?  as  Paul  did  :  but  none  of  God’s  children  are 
born  dumb. 

(2.)  They  heard  a  voice,  but  saw  no  man  ;  they 
heard  Paul  speak,  but  saw  not  him  to  whom  he 
spake,  nor  heard  distinctly  what  was  said  to  him  ; 
which  reconciles  it  with  what  is  said  of  this  matter, 
(ch.  22.  9.)  where  it  is  said,  They  saw  the  light  and 
were  afraid ;  which  they  might  do,  and  yet  see  no 
man  in  the  light,  as  Paul  did  ;  and  that  they  heard 
not  the  voice  of  him  that  spake  to  Paul,  so  as  to  un¬ 
derstand  what  he  said,  though  they  did  hear  a  con¬ 
fused  noise.  Thus  they  who  came  hither  to  be  the 
instruments  of  Paul’s  rage  against  the  church,  serve 
for  witnesses  of  the  power  of  God  over  him. 

8.  What  condition  Saul  was  in  after  this,  v.  8,  9. 
(1.)  He  arose  from  the  earth,  when  Christ  bid 
him,  but,  probably,  not  without  help,  the  vision  had 
made  him  so  fainty  and  weak,  I  will  not  say  like 
Belshazzar,  when  the  joints  of  his  loins  were  loosed, 
and  his  knees  smote  one  against  another,  but  like 
Daniel,  when  upon  the  sight  of  a  vision,  no  strength 
remained  in  him,  Dan.  10.  16,  17. 

(2.)  When  his  eyes  were  opened,  he  found  that  his 
sight  was  gone,  and  he  saw  no  man,  none  of  the  men 
that  were  with  him,  and  began  now  to  be  busy 
about  him.  It  was  not  so  much  this  glaring  light, 
that,  by  dazzling  his  eyes,  had  dimmed  them — Ni- 
mium  sensibile  leedit  sensum  ;  for  then  those  with 
him  would  have  lost  their  sight  too  ;  but  it  was  a 
sight  of  Christ,  whom  the  rest  saw  not,  that  had 
this  effect  upon  him.  Thus  a  believing  sight  of  the 
glory  of  God  in  the  face  of  Christ,  dazzles  the  eves 
to  all  things  here  below.  Christ,  in  order  to  fur¬ 
ther  the  discovery  of  himself  and  his  gospel  to  Paul, 
took  him  off  from  the  sight  of  other  things,  which 
he  must  look  off,  that  he  may  look  unto  Jesus,  and  to 
him  only. 

(3.)  They  led  him  by  the  hand  into  Damascus ; 
whether  to  a  public  house,  or  to  some  friend’s  house, 
is  not  certain  :  but  thus  he  who  thought  to  have  led 
the  disciples  of  Christ  prisoners  and  captives  to 
Jerusalem,  was  himself  led  a  prisoner  and  a  captive 
to  Christ  into  Damascus.  He  was  thus  taught  what 
need  he  had  of  the  grace  of  Christ  to  lead  his  soul 
(being  naturally  blind  and  apt  to  mistake)  into  all 
truth. 

(4. )  He  lay  without  sight,  and  without  food,  nei¬ 
ther  did  eat  nor  drink  for  three  days,  v.  9.  I  do  not 
think,  as  some  do,  that  now  he  had  his  rapture  into 
the  third  heavens,  which  he  speaks  of,  2  Cor.  12. 
So  far  from  that,  that  we  have  reason  to  think  he 
was  all  this  time  rather  in  the  belly  of  hell,  suffering 
God’s  terrors  for  his  sins,  which  were  now  set  in 
order  before  him  :  he  was  in  the  dark  concerning 
his  own  spiritual  state,  and  was  so  wounded  in  spi¬ 
rit  for  sin,  that  he  could  relish  neither  meat  nor 
drink. 

10.  And  there  was  a  certain  disciple  at 
Damascus,  named  Ananias ;  and  to  him 
said  the  Lord  in  a  vision,  Ananias.  And 
he  said,  Behold,  I  am  here. ,  Lord.  1 1.  And 
the  Lord  said  unto  him,  Arise,  and  go  into 
the  street  which  is  called  Straight,  and  en¬ 
quire  in  the  house  of  Judas  for  one  called 
Saul  of  Tarsus:  for,  behold  he  praveth, 
12.  And  hath  seen  in  a  vision  a  man  named 
Ananias  coming  in,  and  putting  his  hand 
CMi  him,  that  he  might  receive  his  sight.  13. 
Then  Ananias  answered,  Lord,  I  have 


92 


THE  ACTS,  IX. 


heard  by  many  of  this  man,  how  much  evil 
lie  hath  done  to  th^  saints  at  Jerusalem  : 
14.  And  here  he  hath  authority  from  the 
Chief  Priests  to  bind  all  that  call  on  thy 
name.  15.  But  the  Lord  said  unto  him, 
Go  thy  way  :  for  he  is  a  chosen  vessel  unto 
me,  to  bear  my  name  before  the  Gentiles, 
and  kings,  and  the  children  of  Israel :  16. 

For  1  will  shew  him  how  great  things  he 
must  suffer  for  my  name’s  sake.  1 7.  And 
Ananias  went  his  way,  and  entered  into 
the  house ;  and  putting  his  hands  on  him 
said,  Brother  Saul,  the  Lord,  even  Jesus, 
that  appeared  unto  thee  in  the  way  as  thou 
earnest,  hath  sent  me,  that  thou  mightest 
receive  thy  sight,  and  be  filled  with  the 
Holy  Ghost.  1 8.  And  immediately  there 
fell  from  his  eyes  as  it  had  been  scales  :  and 
he  received  sight  forthwith,  and  arose,  and 
was  baptized.  19.  And  when  he  had  re¬ 
ceived  meat  he  was  strengthened.  Then 
was  Saul  certain  days  with  the  disciples 
\Vhich  were  at  Damascus.  20.  And  straight¬ 
way  he  preached  Christ  in  the  synagogues, 
that  he  is  the  Son  of  God.  21.  But  all 
that  heard  him  were  amazed,  and  said;  Is 
not  this  he  that  destroyed  them  which  call¬ 
ed  on  this  name  in  Jerusalem,  and  came 
hither  for  that  intent,  that  he  might  bring 
them  bound  unto  the  Chief  Priests  ?  22. 

But  Saul  increased  the  more  in  strength, 
and  confounded  the  Jews  which  dwelt  at 
Damascus,  proving  that  this  is  very  Christ. 

As  for  God,  his  work  is  perfect ;  if  he  begin,  he 
will  make  an  end  ;  a  good  work  was  begun  in  Saul, 
when  he  was  brought  to  Christ’s  feet,  in  that  word, 
Lord,  what  wilt  thou  have  me  to  do  ?  And  never  did 
Christ  leave  any  that  were  brought  to  that.  Though 
Saul  was  sadly  mortified  when  he  lay  three  days 
blind,  yet  he  was  not  abandoned  ;  Christ  here  takes 
care  of  the  work  of  his  own  hands ;  he  that  hath 
torn,  will  heal  ;  that  hath  smitten,  will  bind  up  ;  that 
hath  convinced,  will  comfort. 

I.  Ananias  is  here  ordered  to  go  and  look  after 
him,  to  heal  and  help  him  ;  for  he  that  causeth  grief, 
will  have  compassion. 

1.  The  person  employed  is  Ananias,  a  certain  dis- 
cifile  at  Damascus,  not  lately  driven  thither  from  Je¬ 
rusalem,  but  a  native  of  Damascus ;  for  it  is  said,  (ch. 
22.  12.)  that  he  had  a  good  report  of  all  the  Jews  which 
dwelt  there,  as  a  devout  man  according  to  the  law  ; 
he  had  lately  embraced  the  gospel,  and  given  up  his 
name  to  Christ,  and,  as  it  should  seem,  officiated  as 
a  minister,  at  least  pro  hac  vice — on  this  occasion, 
though  it  does  not  appear  he  was  apostolically  ordain¬ 
ed.  But  why  were  not  some  of  the  apostles  from  Je¬ 
rusalem  sent  for  upon  this  great  occasion,  or  Philip 
the  evangelist,  who  had  lately  baptized  the  eunuch, 
and  might  have  been  fetched  hither  by  the  Spirit  in 
a  little  time  ?  Surely,  because  Christ  would  employ 
variety  of  hands  in  eminent  services,  that  the  ho¬ 
nours  might  not  be  monopolized,  or  engrossed  by  a 
few  ;  because  he  would  put  work  into  the  hands, 
and  therfebv  put  honour  upon  the  heads,  of  those 
that  were  mean  and  obscure,  to  encourage  them  ; 
and  because  he  would  direct  us  to  make  much  of  the 
ministers  that  are  where  our  lot  is  cast,  if  they  have 


obtained  mercy  to  be  faithful,  though  they  are  not 
of  the  most  eminent.  ' 

2.  The  direction  given  him,  is,  to  go  and  inquire 
at  such  a  house,  probably  an  inn,  for  one  Saul  of 
Tarsus.  Christ,  in  a  vision,  called  to  Ananias  by 
name,  v.  10.  It  is  likely,  it  was  not  the  first  time 
that  he  had  heard  the  words  of  God,  and  seen  the 
visions  of  the  Almighty  ;  for,  without  terror  or  con¬ 
fusion,  he  readily  answers,  “  Behold,  I  am  here , 
Lord,  ready  to  go  wherever  thou  sendest  me,  and 
to  do  whatever  thou  biddest  me.  ”  Go  then,  saith 
Christ,  into  the  street  which  is  culled  Straight,  and 
inquire  in  the  house  of  Judas ,  wh’efe  strangers  used 
to  lodge,  for  one  called  Saul  of  Tarsus.  Note, 
Christ  very  well  knows  where  to  find  out  those  that 
are  his,  in  their  distresses-:  when  their  relations, 
it  may  be,  know  not  what  is  become  of  them,  they 
have  a  friend  in  heaven,  that  knows  in  what  street, 
in  what  house,  nay,  and  which  is  more,  in  what 
frame,  they  are  :  he  knows  their  souls  in  adversity. 

3.  Two  reasons  are  given  him  why  he  must  go 
and  inquire  for  this  stranger,  and  offer  him  his  ser¬ 
vice  : 

(1.)  Because  he  prays,  and  his  coming  to  him  must 
answer  his  prayer.  This  is  a  reason,  [1.]  Why 
Ananias  needed  not  to  be  afraid  of  him,  as  we  find 
he  was,  v.  13,  14.  There  is  no  question,  saith  Christ, 
but  he  is  a  true  convert,  for  behold,  he  prayeth. 
Behold,  notes. the  certainty  of  it ;  “  Assure  thyself 
it  is  so  ;  go,  and  see.”  Christ  was  so  pleased  to  find 
Paul  praying,  that  he  must  have  others  to  take  notice 
of  it  ?  Rejoice  with  me,  for  I  have  found  the  sheep 
which  I  had  lost.  It  notes  also  the  strangeness  of  it ; 
“  Behold,  and  wonder,  that  he  who  but  the  other 
day  breathed  nothing  but  threatenings  and  slaughter, 
now  breathes  nothing  but  prayer.”-  But  was  it  such 
a  strange  thing  for  Saul  to  pray  ?  Was  he  not  a  Pha¬ 
risee,  and  have  we  not  reason  to  think  he  did,  as  the 
rest  of  them  did,  make  long  prayers  in  the  syna¬ 
gogues  and  in  the  corners  of  the  streets  ?  Yes  ;  but 
now  he  began  to  pray  after  another  manner  than  he 
had  done  ;  then  he  said  his  prayers,  now  he  prayed 
them.  Note,  Regenerating  grace  evermore  sets 
people  on  praying  ;  you  may  as  well  find  a  living 
man  without  breath  as  a  living  Christian  without 
prayer  ;  if  breathless,  lifeless  ;  and  so  if  prayerless, 
graceless.  [2.]  As  a  reason  why  Ananias  must  go 
to  him  with  all  speed  ;  it  is  no  time  to  linger,  for 
behold,  he  prayeth  :  if  the  child  cry,  the  tender 
nurse  hastens  to  it  with  the  breast.  Saul  here,  like 
Ephraim,  is  bemoaning  himself,  reproaching  him¬ 
self,  as  a  bullock  unaccustomed  to  the  yoke,  and 
kicking  against  the  goad.  “  Oh  !  go  to  him  quickly, 
and  tell  him  he  is  a  dear  son,  a  pleasant  child,  and 
since  I  spake  against  him,  for  persecuting  me,  I  do 
earnestly  remember  him  still,”  Jer.  31.  18 — 20. 
Observe  what  condition  Saul  was  now  in.  He  was 
under  conviction  of  sin,  trembling,  and  astonished  ; 
the  setting  of  sin  in  order  before  us  should  drive  us 
to  prayer.  He  was  under  a  bodily  affliction,  blind 
and  sick;  and,  Is  any  afflicted?  Let  him  pray. 
Christ  had  promised  him,  that  it  should  be  further 
told  him  what  he  shoukf  do,  (i>.  6.)  and  he  prays 
that  one  may  be  sent  to  him  to  instruct  him.  Note, 
What  God  has  promised,  we  must  pray  for  ;  he  will 
for  this  be  inquired  of,  and  particularly  for  divine 
instruction. 

(2.)  Because  he  hath  seen  in  a  vision  such  a  man 
coming  to  him,  to  restore  him  to  his  sight ;  and  Ana¬ 
nias’s  coming  to  him  must  answer  his  dream,  for  it 
was  of  God,  v.  12.  He  hath  seen  in  a  vision  a  jnan 
named  Ananias,  and  just  such  a  man  as  thou  art, 
coming  in  seasonably  for  his  relief,  and  putting  his 
hand  on  him,  that  he  might  receive  his  sight.  Now 
this  vision  which  Paul  had,  may  be  considered,  [1.] 
As  an  immediate  answer  to  his  prayer,  and  the 
keeping  up  of  that  communion  with  God,  which  he 


93 


THE  ACTS,  IX. 


had  entered  into  by  prayer.  He  had,  in  prayer, 
spread  the  misery  of  his  own  case  before  God  ;  and 
God  presently  manifests  himself,  and  the  kind  in¬ 
tentions  of  his  grace  to  him  ;  and  it  is  very  encour¬ 
aging  to  know  God’s  thoughts  to  usward.  [2.]  As 
designed  to  raise  his  expectations,  and  to  make  Ana¬ 
nias’s  coming  more  welcome  to  him.  He  would 
readily  receive  him  as  a  messenger  from  God,  when 
he  was  told  beforehand,  in  vision,  that  one  of  that 
name  would  come  to  him.  See  what  a  great  thing 
it  is  to  bring  a  spiritual  physician  and  his  patient  to¬ 
gether  :  here  are  two  visions  in  order  to  it  !  When 
God,  in  his  providence,  does  it  without  visions,  brings 
a  messenger  to  the  afflicted  soul,  an  interpreter,  one 
among  a  thousand,  to  shew  unto  man  his  uprightness, 
it  must  be  acknowledged  with  thankfulness  to  his 
praise. 

II.  Ananias  objects  against  going  to  him,  and  the 
Lord  answers  the  objection.  See  how  condescend¬ 
ingly  the  Lord  admits  his  servant  to  reason  with  him. 

1.  Ananias  pleads,  that  this  Saul  was  a  notorious 
persecutor  of  the  disciples  of  Christ,  v.  13,  14.  (1.) 
He  had  been  so  at  Jerusalem  ;  “  Lord,  I  have  heard 
by  many  of  this  man,  what  a  malicious  enemy  he  is 
to  the  gospel  of  Christ :  all  those  that  were  scattered 
upon  the  late  persecution,  many  of  whom  are  come 
to  Damascus,  tell  how  ?nuch  evil  he  hath  done  to  thy 
saints  in  Jerusalem  ;  that  he  was  the  most  virulent, 
violent  persecutor  of  all  the  rest,  and  a  ringleader  in 
the  mischief;  what  havoc  he  has  made  of  the  church  : 
there  was  no  man  they  were  more  afraid  of,  no,  not 
the  High-Priest  himself,  than  of  Saul  ;  nay,”  (2.) 
“  His  errand  to  Damascus  at  this  time  is  to  perse¬ 
cute  us  Christians ;  here  he  has  authority  from  the 
chief  /iriests  to  bind  all  that  call  on  thy  name ;  to 
treat  the  worshippers  of  Christ  as  the  worst  of  cri¬ 
minals.”  Now,  why  docs  Ananias  object  this  ?  Not, 
“Therefore  I  do  not  owe  him  so  much  service. 
Why  should  I  do  him  a  kindness,  who  has  done  and 
designed  us  so  much  unkindness?”  No,  Christ  has 
taught  us  another  lesson,  to  render  good  for  evil,  and 
pray  for  our  persecutors ;  but,  if  he  be  Such  a  per¬ 
secutor  of  Christians,  [1.]  Will  it  be  safe  for  Ananias 
to  go  to  him  ?  Will  he  not  throw  himself  like  a  lamb 
into  the  mouth  of  a  lion  ?  And  if  he  thus  bring  him¬ 
self  into  trouble,  he  will  be  blamed  for  his  indiscre¬ 
tion.  [2.]  Will  it  be  to  any  purpose  to  go  to  him  ? 
Can  such  a  hard  heart  ever  be  softened,  or  such  an 
Ethiopian  ever  change  his  skin  ? 

2.  Christ  overrules  the  objection  ;  ( v .  15,  16.) 
**  Do  not  tell  me  how  bad  he  has  been,  I  know  it  very 
well  ;  but  go  thy  way  with  all  speed,  and  give  him 
all  the  help  thou  canst,  for  he  is  a  chosen  x>essel,  or 
instrument,  unto  me  ;  1  design  to  put  confidence 
in  him,  and  then  thou  needest  not  fear  him.”  He 
was  a  vessel  in  which  the  gospel-treasure  should  be 
lodged,  in  order  to  the  conveyance  of  it  to  many  ;  an 
earthen  vessel,  (2  Cor.  4.  7.)  but  a  chosen  vesse-l. 
The  vessel  God  uses,  he  himself  chooses  ;  and  it  is 
fit  he  should  himself  have  the  choosing  of  the  instru¬ 
ments  he  employs  ;  (John  15.  16.)  Ye  have  not  cho¬ 
sen  me,  but  I  have  chosen  you.  He  is  a  vessel  of 
honour,  and  must  not  be  neglected  in  his  present 
forlorn  condition,  or  thrown  away  as  a  despised  bro¬ 
ken  vessel,  or  a  vessel  in  which  there  is  no  pleasure  : 
he  is  designed,  (1.)  For  eminent  services  :  He  is  to 
bear  my  name  before  the  Gentiles,  is  to  be  the  apos¬ 
tle  of  the  Gentiles,  and  to  carry  the  gospel  to  heathen 
nations.  Christ’s  name  is  the  standard  to  which 
souls  must  be  gathered,  and  under  which  they  must 
be  listed,  and  Saul  must  be  a  standard-bearer,  he 
must  bear  Christ’s  name,  must  bear  witness  to  it 
before  kings,  king  Agrippa  and  Cxsarhimself ;  nay, 
he  must  bear  it  before  the  children  of  Israel,  though 
there  were  so  many  hands  already  at  work  about 
them.  (2.)  For  eminent  sufferings;  (t».  16.)  I  will 
shew  him  how  great  things  he  must  suffer  for  my 


name’s  sake.  He  that  has  been  a  persecutor,  shall 
be  himself  persecuted.  Christ’s  shewing  him  this, 
intimates  either  his  bringing  him  to  these  trials,  (as 
Ps.  60.  3.)  Thou  hast  shewed  thy  people  hard  things, 
or  his  giving  notice  of  them  beforehand,  that  they 
might  be  no  surprise  to  him.  Note,  Those  that  bear 
Christ’s  name,  must  expect  to  bear  the  cross  for  his 
name  ;  and  those  that  do  most  for  Christ,  are  often 
called  out  to  suffer  most  for  him.  Saul  must  suffer 
great  things.  This,  one  would  think,  was  cold  com¬ 
fort  for  a  young  convert ;  but  is  is  only  like  telling  a 
soldier  of  a  bold  and  brave  spirit,  when  he  is  enlisted, 
that  he  shall  take  the  field,  and  enter  upon  action, 
shortly.  Saul’s  sufferings  for  Christ  shall  redound 
so  much  to  the  honour  of  Christ  and  the  service  of 
the  church,  shall  be  so  balanced  with  spiritual  com¬ 
forts,  and  recompensed  with  eternal  glories,  that  it 
is  no  discouragement  to  him  to  be  told  how  great 
things  he  must  suffer  for  Christ’s  name’s  sake. 

111.  Ananias  presently  goes  on  Christ’s  errand  to 
Saul,  and  with  good  effect ;  he  had  started  an  objec¬ 
tion  against  going  to  him,  but  when  an  answer  was 
given  to  it,  he  dropped  it,  and  did  not  insist  upon  it. 
When  difficulties  are  removed,  what  have  we  to  do, 
but  to  go  on  with  our  work,  and  not  hang  upon  an 
objection  ? 

1.  Ananias  delivered  his  message  to  Saul,  v.  17. 
Probably,  he  found  him  in  bed,  and  applied  to  him 
as  a  patient.  (1.)  He  put  his  hands  on  him.  It  was 
promised,  as  one  of  the  signs  that  shall  follow  them 
that  believe,  that  they  should  lay  hands  on  the  sick, 
and  they  should  recover,  (Mark  16.  18.)  and  it  was 
for  that  intent  that  he  put  his  hands  on  him.  Saul 
came  to  lay  violent  hands  upon  the  disciples  at  Da¬ 
mascus,  but  here  a  disciple  lays  a  helping,  healing 
hand  upon  him.  The  blood-thirsty  hate  the  upright, 
but  the  just  seek  his  soul.  (2.)  He  called  him  \ bro¬ 
ther -,  because  he  was  made  a  partaker  of  the  grace 
of  God,  though  not  yet  baptized  ;  and  his  readiness 
to  own  him  as  a  brother,  intimated  to  him  God’s 
readiness  to  own  him  as  a  son,  though  he  had  been 
a  blasphemer  of  God,  and  a  persecutor  of  his  chil¬ 
dren.  (3.)  He  produces  his  commission  from  the 
same  hand  that  had  laid  hold  on  him  bv  the  way, 
and  now  had  him  in  custody.  “That  same  Jesus 
that  appeared  unto  thee  in  the  way  as  thou  earnest, 
and  convinced  thee  of  thy  sin  in  persecuting  him, 
has  now  sent  me  to  thee  to  comfort  thee.”  Una 
eademque  manus  vulnus  opemque  tulit — The  hand 
that  wounded,  heals.  “  His  light  struck  thee  blind, 
but  he  hath  sent  me  to  thee  that  thou  mightest  receive 
thy  sight ;  for  the  design  was  not  to  blind  thine  eyes, 
but  to  dazzle  them,  that  thou  mightest  see  things  by 
another  light :  he  that  then  put  clay  upon  thine 
eyes,  hath  sent  me  to  wash  them  that  they  mav  be 
cured.”  Ananias  might  deliver  his  message  to  Saul 
very  appositely  in  the  prophet’s  words  ;  (Hos.  6.  1, 
2.)  Come  and  turn  to  the  Lord,  for  he  hath  torn, 
and  he  will  heal  thee ;  he  hath  smitten,  and  he  will 
bind  thee  up  ;  now  after  two  days  he  will  revive 
thee,  and  the  third  day  he  will  raise  thee  up,  and 
thou  shalt  live  in  his  sight.  Corrosives  shall  be  no 
more  applied,  but  lenitives.  (4.)  He  assures  him 
that  he  shall  not  only  have  his  sight  restored,  but 
be  filled  with  the  Hoiv  Ghost :  he  must  himself  be 
an  apostle,  and  must  in  nothing  come  behind  the 
chief  of  the  apostles,  and  therefore  must  receive 
the  Holy  Ghost  immediately,  and  not,  as  others  did, 
by  the  interposition  of  the  apostles  ;  and  Ananias’s 
putting  his  hands  upon  him  before  he  was  baptized, 
was  for  the  conferring  of  the  Holy  Ghost. 

2.  Ananias  saw'  the  good  issue  of  his  mission, 

(1.)  In  Christ’s  favour  to  Saul.  At  the  word  of 

Ananias,  Saul  was  discharged  from  his  confinement 
by  the  restoring  of  his  sight ;  for  Christ’s  commis¬ 
sion  to  open  the  prison  to  them  that  were  bound, 
(Isa.  61.  1.)  is  explained  by  the  giving  of  sight  to 


94 


THE  ACTS,  IX. 


the  blind,  Luke  4.  18.  Christ’s  commission  is  to 
open  the  blind  eyes,  and  to  bring  out  the  prisoners 
from  the  prison.  Saul  is  delivered  from  the  spirit 
of  bondage,  by  his  receiving  sight,  (v.  18.)  which 
was  signified  by  the  falling  of  scales  from  his  eyes  ; 
and  this  immediately,  and  forthwith  :  the  cure  was 
sudden,  to  shew  that  it  was  miraculous.  This  sig¬ 
nified  the  recovering  of  him,  [1.]  From  the  dark¬ 
ness  of  his  unconverted  state  :  when  he  persecuted 
the  church  of  God,  and  walked  in  the  spirit  and  way 
of  the  Pharisees,  he  was  blind,  he  saw  not  the  mean¬ 
ing  either  of  the  law,  or  of  the  gospel,  Rom.  7.  9. 
Christ  often  told  the  Pharisees  that  they  were  blind, 
and  could  not  make  them  sensible  of  it ;  they  said, 
We  see,  John  9.  41.  Saul  is  saved  from  his  Phari¬ 
saical  blindness,  by  being  made  sensible  of  it.  Note, 
Converting  grace  opens  the  eyes  of  the  soul,  and 
makes  the  scales  to  fall  from  them,  (ch.  26.  18.^  to 
open  men’s  eyes,  and  turn  them  from  darkness  to 
light :  this  was  it  that  Saul  was  sent  among  the  Gen¬ 
tiles  to  do,  by  the  preaching  of  the  gospel,  and  there¬ 
fore  must  first  experience  it  in  himself.  [2.]  From 
the  darkness  of  his  present  terrors,  under  the  ap¬ 
prehension  of  guilt  upon  his  conscience,  and  the 
wrath  of  God  against  him  ;  this  filled  him  with  con¬ 
fusion,  during  those  three  days  he  sat  in  darkness, 
like  Jonah  for  three  days  in  the  belly  of  hell ;  but 
now  the  scales  fell  from  his  eves,  the  cloud  was 
scattered,  and  the  Sun  of  righteousness  rose  upon  his 
soul,  with  healing  under  his  wings. 

(2.)  In  Saul’s  subjection  to  Christ ;  he  was  bap¬ 
tized,  and  thereby  submitted  himself  to  the  govern¬ 
ment  of  Christ,  and  cast  himself  upon  the  grace  of 
Christ.  Thus  he  was  entered  into  Christ’s  school, 
hired  into  his  family,  listed  under  his  banner,  and 
joined  himself  to  him  for  better  for  worse.  The 
point  was  gained,  it  is  settled  ;  Saul  is  now  a  disciple 
of  Christ,  not  only  ceases  to  oppose  him,  but  devotes 
himself  entirely  to  his  service  and  honour. 

IV.  The  good  work  that  was  begun  in  Saul,  is 
carried  on  wonderfully  ;  this  new-born  Christian, 
though  he  seemed  as  one  bom  out  of  due  time,  yet 
presently  comes  to  maturity. 

1.  He  received  his  bodily  strength,  v.  19.  He 
had  continued  three  days  fasting,  which  with  the 
nighty  weight  that  was  all  that  time  upon  his  spirits, 
had  made  him  very  weak  ;  but  when  he  had  re¬ 
ceived  meat,  he  was  strengthened,  v.  19.  The  Lord 
is  for  the  body,  and  therefore  care  must  be  taken  of 
that,  to  keep  it  in  good  plight,  that  it  may  be  fit  to 
serve  the  soul  in  God’s  service,  and  that  Christ  may 
be  magnified  in  it,  Phil.  1.  20. 

2.  He  associated  with  the  disciples  that  were  at 
Damascus,  fell  in  with  them,  conversed  with  them, 
went  to  their  meetings,  and  joined  in  communion 
with  them.  He  had  lately  breathed  out  threatenings 
and  slaughter  against  them,  but  now  breathes  love 
and  affection  to  them.  Now  the  wolf  dwells  with 
the  lamb,  and  the  leofiard  lies  down  with  the  kid,  Isa. 
11.  6.  Note,  Those  that  take  God  for  their  God, 
take  his  people  for  their  people.  Saul  associated 
with  the  disciples,  because  now  he  saw  an  amiable¬ 
ness  and  excellency  in  them,  because  he  loved  them, 
and  found  that  he  improved  in  knowledge  and  grace 
by  conversing  with  them  ;  and  thus  he  made  profes¬ 
sion  of  his  Christian  faith,  and  openly  declared  him¬ 
self  a  disciple  of  Christ,  by  herding  with  those  that 
were  his  disciples. 

3.  He  fireached  Christ  in  the  synagogues,  v.  20. 
To  this  he  had  an  extraordinary  call,  and  for  it  an 
extraordinary  qualification,  God  having  immediately 
revealed  his  Son  to  him  and  in  him,  that  he  might 
preach  him,  Gal.  1.  15,  16.  He  was  so  full  of  Christ 
himself,  that  the  Spirit  within  him  constrained  him 
to  preach  him  to  others,  and,  like  Elihu,  to  speak 
that  he  might  be  refreshed,  Job  32.  20.  Observe, 
( 1. )  Where  he  preached  ;  in  the  synagogues  of  the 


Jews ;  for  they  were  to  have  the  first  offer  made 
them  ;  the  synagogues  were  their  places  of  con¬ 
course,  there  he  met  with  them  together,  and  there 
they  used  to  preach  against  Christ,  and  to  punish 
his  disciples  ;  by  the  same  token  that  Paul  himself 
had  punished  them  oft  in  every  synagogue,  ( ch .  26. 
11.)  and  therefore  there  he  would  face  the  enemies 
of  Christ,  where  they  were  most  daring ;  and  openly 
profess  Christianity  there,  where  he  had  most  op¬ 
posed  it.  (2. )  What  he  preached  ;  He  preached 
Christ.  When  he  began  to  be  a  preacher,  he  fixed 
that  for  his  principle,  which  he  stuck  to  ever  after ; 
We  preach  not  ourselves,  but  Christ  Jesus  our  Lord; 
nothing  but  Christ,  and  him  crucified.  He  preached 
concerning  Christ,  that  he  is  the  Son  of  Cod,  his  be¬ 
loved  Son,  in  whom  he  is  well  ] deased ,  and  with  us 
in  him,  and  not  otherwise.  (3.)  How  people  were 
affected  with  it;  (z/.  21.)  All  that  heard  him  were 
amazed,  and  said,  “  Is  not  this  he  that  destroyed 
them  which  called  on  this  name  in  Jerusalem,  and 
now  does  he  call  on  this  name  himself,  and  persuade 
others  to  call  upon  it,  and  strengthen  the  hands  of 
those  that  do  !”  Quantum  mutatus  ab  illo — Oh  how 
changed!  “Is  Saul  also  among  the  prophets'!  Nay, 
did  he  not  come  hither  for  that  intent,  to  seize  all 
the  Christians  he  could  find,  and  bring  them  bound 
to  the  chief  priests  ?  Yes,  he  did.  Who  would  have 
thought  then,  that  he  should  preach  Christ  as  he 
does  ?”  Doubtless,  this  was  looked  upon  by  many 
as  a  great  confirmation  of  the  truth  of  Christianity, 
that  one  who  had  been  such  a  notorious  persecutor 
of  it,  came,  on  a  sudden,  to  be  such  an  intelligent, 
strenuous,  and  capacious  preacher  of  it.  This  mira¬ 
cle  upon  the  mind  of  such  a  man,  outshone  the  mi¬ 
racles  upon  men’s  bodies ;  and  giving  a  man  such 
another  heart  was  more  than  giving  men  to  speak 
with  other  tongues. 

4.  He  confuted  and  confounded  those  that  op¬ 
posed  the  doctrine  of  Christ,  v.  22.  He  signalized 
himself,  not  only  in  the  pulpit,  but  in  the  schools, 
and  shewed  himself  supernaturally  enabled,  not  only 
to  preach  tffe  truth,  but  to  maintain  and  defend  it 
when  he  had  preached  it.  (1.)  He  increased  in 
strength  ;  he  became  more  intimately  acquainted 
with  the  gospel  of  Christ,  and  his  pious  affections 
grew  more  strong  ;  he  grew  more  bold  and  daring 
and  resolute  in  the  defence  of  the  gospel ;  he  increas¬ 
ed  the  more,  for  the  reflections  that  were  cast  upon 
him,  (t>.  21.)  in  which  his  new  friends  upbraided 
him  as  having  been  a  persecutor,  and  his  old  friends 
upbraided  him  as  being  now  a  turncoat  ;  but  Saul, 
instead  of  being  discouraged  by  tht  various  remarks 
made  upon  his  conversion,  was  thereby  so  much  the 
more  imboldened,  finding  he  had  enough  at  hand 
wherewith  to  answer  the  worst  they  could  say  of 
him.  (2.)  He  ran  down  his  antagonists,  and  con¬ 
founded  the  Jews  which  dwelt  in  Damascus ;  he 
silenced  them,  and  shamed  them  ;  answered  their 
objections  to  the  satisfaction  of  all  indifferent  per¬ 
sons,  and  pressed  them  with  arguments  which  they 
could  make  no  reply  to.  In  all  his  discourses  with 
the  Jews,  he  was  still  proving  that  this  Jesus  is  very 
Christ,  is  the  Christ,  the  Anointed  of  God,  the  true 
Messiah  promised  to  the  fathers.  He  was  proving 
it,  truyAtCd^cev — affirming  it  and  confirming  it ;  teach¬ 
ing  with  persuasion.  And  we  have  reason  to  think 
he  was  instrumental  to  convert  many  to  the  faith  of 
Christ,  and  to  build  up  the  church  at  Damascus, 
which  he  came  thither  to  make  havoc  of.  Thus, 
out  of  the  eater  came  forth  meat,  and  out  of  the 
strong  sweetness. 

23.  And  after  that  many  days  were  ful¬ 
filled,  the  Jews  took  counsel  to  kill  him : 
24.  But  their  laying  await  was  known  of 
Saul.  And  they  watched  the  gates  day 


95 


THE  ACTS,  lA . 


and  night,  to  kill  him.  25.  Then  the  dis-  ' 
ciples  took  him  by  night,  and  let  him  down 
by  the  wall,  in  a  basket.  26.  And  when 
Saul  was  come  to  Jerusalem,  he  assayed 
to  join  himself  to  the  disciples  :  but  they 
were  all  afraid  of  him,  and  believed  not 
that  he  was  a  disciple.  27.  But  Barnabas 
took  him,  and  brought  him  to  the  apostles, 
and  declared  unto  them  how  he  had  seen 
the  Lord  in  the  way,  and  that  he  had 
spoken  to  him,  and  how  he  had  preached 
boldly  at  Damascus  in  the  name  of  Jesus. 
28.  And  he  was  with  them  coming  in  and 
going  out  at  Jerusalem.  29.  And  he  spake 
boldly  in  the  name  of  the  Lord  Jesus,  and 
disputed  against  the  Grecians  :  but  they 
went  about  to  slay  him.  30.  Which  when 
the  brethren  knew,  they  brought  him  down 
to  Cesarea,  and  sent  him  forth  to  Tarsus. 
31.  Then  had  the  churches  rest  throughout 
all  Judrea,  and  Galilee,  and  Samaria,  and 
were  edified  ;  and  walking  in  the  fear  of 
the  Lord,  and  in  the  comfort  of  the  Holy 
Ghost,  were  multiplied. 

Luke  here  makes  no  mention  of  Paul’s  journey 
into  Arabia,  which  he  tells  us  himself  was  immedi¬ 
ately  after  his  conversion,  Gal.  1.  16,  17.  As  soon 
as  God  had  revealed  his  Son  in  him,  that  he  might 
preach  him,  he  went  not  up  to  Jerusalem,  to  receive 
instructions  from  the  apostles,  (as  any  other  convex! 
would  have  done,  that  was  designed  for  the  minis¬ 
try,)  but  he  went  to  Arabia,  whei*e  thei’e  was  new 
gi'ound  to  bi’eak  up,  and  where  he  would  have  op¬ 
portunity  of  teaching,  but  not  of  learning ;  thence 
he  returned  to  Damascus,  and  there,  three  years 
after  his  conversion,  this  happened,  which  is  hei'e 
recoixled. 

I.  He  met  with  difficulties  at  Damascus,  and  had 
a  narrow  escape  of  being  killed  thei'e.  Observe, 

1.  What  his  danger  was  ;  (x.  23. )  The  Jews  took 
counsel  to  kill  him,  being  more  enraged  at  him  than 
at  any  other  of  the  preachers  of  the  gospel ;  not 
only  because  he  was  more  lively  and  zealous  in  his 
preaching  than  any  of  them,  and  more  successful, 
but  because  he  had  been  such  a  remarkable  desert- 
ex*,  and  his  being  a  chinstian  was  a  testimony  against 
them.  It  is  said,  (x.  24.)  The  Jews  watched  the 
gates  day  and  night  to  kill  him  ;  they  incensed  the 
governor  against  him,  as  a  dangerous  man,  who 
therefore  kept  the  city  with  a  guard  to  apprehend 
film,  at  his  going  out  or  coming  in,  2  Cor.  11.  32. 
Now  Christ  shewed  Paul  what  great  things  he  must 
suffer  for  his  name,  (x.  16.)  when  hei*e  is  pi’esently 
the  government  in  arms  against  him,  which  was  a 
great  thing,  and,  as  all  his  other  sufferings  after¬ 
ward,  helped  to  make  him  considerable.  Saul  was 
no  °ooner  a  chi’istian  than  a  preacher  ;  no  sooner  a 
preacher  than  a  suffei’er  ;  so  quick  did  he  rise  to  the 
top  of  pi*ei -rment  !  Note,  Whei*e  God  gives 
gi*eat  grace,  he  commonly  exeixises  it  with  great 
trials. 

2.  How  he  was  delivered.  (1.)  The  design  against 
him  was  discovei’ed  ,  Their  lying  in  wait  was  known 
of  Saul,  by  some  int^ligence,  whether  from  heaven 
or  from  men,  we  arc  not  told.  (2.)  The  disciples 
contrived  to  help  hh*,,  away,  hid  him,  it  is  likely, 
by  day,  and  in  the  night,  the  gates  being  watched, 
that  he  could  not  get  away  thi-ough  them,  they  let 
him  down  by  the  wall,  in  a  basket,  as  he  himself 


relates  it ;  (2  Cor.  11.  33.)  so  he  escaped  tut  of  then 
hands .  This  story,  as  it  shews  us  that  when  we 
enter  into  the  way  of  God  we  must  look  for  tempta 
tion,  and  pi*epai*e  accordingly  ;  so  it  shews  us,  that 
the  Lord  knows  how  to  deliver  the  godly  out  oj 
temptation,  and  will  with  the  temptation  also  maki 
a  way  to  escape,  that  we  may  not  be  by  it  detei'm 
or  driven  from  the  way  of  God. 

II.  He  met  with  difficulties  at  Jei*usalem  the  first 
time  he  went  thithex*,  v.  26.  He  came  to  Jerusalem. 
This  is  thought  to  be  that  journey  to  Jei*usalem, 
which  he  himself  speaks  of;  (Gal.  1.  18.)  After 
three  years  I  went  up  to  Jerusalem,  saith  he,  to  see 
Peter,  and  abode  with  him  fifteen  days.  But  I  ra¬ 
ther  incline  to  think  that  this  was  a  journey  before 
that,  because  his  coming  in  and  going  out,  his 
preaching  and  disputing,  (x.  28,  29.)  seem  to  be 
moi*e  than  would  consist  with  his  fifteen  days’  stay, 
(for  that  was  no  more,)  and  to  require  a  longer  time ; 
and  besides,  now  he  came  a  stranger,  but  then  he 
came,  Wo^o-xt  nG/iov — to  confer  with  Peter,  as  one 
he  was  intimate  with  ;  howevei*,  it  might  possibly 
be  the  same.  Now  obsei-ve, 

1.  How  shy  his  fi'iends  were  of  him  ;  (v.  26.) 
When  he  came  to  Jerusalem,  he  did  not  go  to  the  chief 
priests  and  the  Pharisees,  (he  had  taken  his  leave 
of  them  long  since,)  but  he  assayed  to  join  himself 
to  the  disciples  ;  whei*ever  he  came,  he  owntd  him¬ 
self  one  of  that  despised  pei'secuted  people,  and  as¬ 
sociated  with  them  ;  they  were  now  in  his  eyes  the 
excellent  ones  of  the  earth,  in  whom  was  all  his  de¬ 
light  ;  he  desiixd  to  be  acquainted  with  them,  and 
to  be  admitted  into  communion  with  them  ;  but  thev 
looked  strange  upon  him,  shut  the  door  against  him, 
and  would  not  go  about  any  of  their  religious  exei*- 
cises  if  he  wei*e  by;  for  they  were  afraid  of  him. 
Now  might  Paul  be  tempted  to  think  himself  in  an 
ill  case,  when  the  Jews  had  abandoned  and  perse¬ 
cuted  him,  and  the  chi’istians  would  not  ixceive  and 
entertain  him.  Thus  does  he  fall  into  divex’S  tempta¬ 
tions,  and  needs  the  armour  of  righteousness,  as  we 
all  do,  both  on  the  right  hand  and  on  the  left,  that 
we  may  not  be  discouraged,  either  by  the  unjust 
treatment  of  our  enemies,  or  the  unkind  treatment 
of  our  fi’iends. 

(1.)  See  what  was  the  cause  of  their  jealousy  of 
him  ;  They  believed  not  that  he  was  a  disciple,  but 
that  he  only  pretended  to  be  so,  and  came  among 
them  as  a  spy  or  an  informei*.  They  knew  what  a 
bitter  pex*secutor  he  had  been,  with  what  fuiy  he 
went  to  Damascus  some  time  ago ;  they  had  heard 
nothing  of  him  since,  and  therefore  thought  he  was 
but  a  wolf  in  sheep’s  clothing.  The  disciples  of 
Chi'ist  need  to  be  cautious  whom  they  admit  into 
communion  with  them.  Believe  not  every  spirit. 
Thei'e  is  need  of  the  wisdom  of  the  serpent,  to  keep 
the  mean  between  the  extremes  of  suspicion  on  the 
one  hand  and  credulity  on  the  other  ;  yet  methinis 
it  is  safer  to  err  on  the  chai'itable  side,  because  it  is 
an  adjudged  case,  that  it  is  better  the  tai’es  should 
be  found  among  the  wheat  than  that  the  wheat 
should  any  of  it  be  rooted  up,  and  thrown  out  of  the 
field. 

(2.)  See  how  it  was  removed;  (x.  27.)  Barnabas 
took  him  to  the  apostles  themselves,  who  were  not  so 
scrupulous  as  the  inferior  disciples,  to  whom  he  first, 
assayed  to  join  himself,  and  he  declared  to  them,  [  1.  *] 
What  Christ  had  done  for  him — he  had  shewed  him¬ 
self  to  him  in  the  way,  and  spoken  to  him  ;  and  what 
he  said.  [2.]  What  he  had  since  done  for  Chi-'st; 
he  had  preached  boldly  at  Damascus  in  the  name  of 
Jesus.  How  Baniabas  came  to  know  this,  more 
than  the  i*est  of  them,  we  are  not  told  ;  whether  he 
had  himself  been  at  Damascus,  or  had  had  letters 
from  tnence,  or  discoursed  with  some  of  that  city, 

I  by  which  he  came  to  the  knowledge  of  this ;  or 
|  whether  he  had  formerly  been  acquainted  with  Paul 


96 


THE  ACTS,  IX. 


in  the  Grecian  synagogues,  or  at  the  feet  of  Gama¬ 
liel,  and  had  such  an  account  of  his  conversion  from 
himself  as  he  saw  cause  enough  to  give  credit  to ;  so 
it  was,  that,  being  satisfied  himself,  he  gave  satisfac¬ 
tion  to  the  apostles  concerning  him,  he  having 
brought  no  testimonials  from  the  disciples  at  Da¬ 
mascus,  thinking  he  needed  not ,  as  some  others, 
epistles  of  commendation,  2  Cor.  3.  1.  Note,  The 
introducing  of  a  young  convert  into  the  communion 
of  the  faithful,  is  a  very  good  work,  and  which,  as 
we  have  opportunity,  we  should  be  ready  to. 

2.  How  sharp  his  enemies  were  upon  him  : 

(1.)  He  was  admitted  into  the  communion  of  the 
disciples,  which  was  no  little  provocation  to  his  ene¬ 
mies.  It  vexed  the  unbelieving  Jews,  to  see  Saul  a 
trophy  of  Christ’s  victory,  and  a  captive  to  his  grace, 
who  had  been  such  a  champion  for  their  cause  ;  to 
see  him  coming  in,  and  going  out,  with  the  a/iostles, 
(v.  28. )  and  to  hear  them  glorying  in  him,  or  rather 
glorifying  God  in  him. 

(2.)  He  appeared  vigorous  in  the  cause  of  Christ, 
and  this  was  yet  more  provoking  to  them  ;  ( v .  29.) 
He  s/iake  boldly  in  the  name  of  the  Lord  Jesus. 
Note,  Those  that  speak  for  Christ,  have  reason  to 
speak  boldly ;  for  they  have  a  good  cause,  and  speak 
for  one  who  will  at  least  speak  for  himself  and  them 
too.  The  Grecians,  or  Hellenist  Jews,  were  most 
offended  at  him,  because  he  had  been  one  of  them  ; 
and  they  drew  him  into  a  dispute,  in  which,  no 
doubt,  he  was  too  hard  for  them,  as  he  had  been  for 
the  Jews  at  Damascus.  One  of  the  martyrs  said, 
Though  she  could  not  dispute  for  Christ,  she  could 
cie  for  Christ ;  but  Paul  could  do  both.  Now  the 
Lord  Jesus  divided  the  spoils  of  the  strong  man  armed 
in  Saul.  For  that  same  natural  quickness  and  fer¬ 
vour  of  spirit,  which,  while  he  was  in  ignorance  and 
unbelief,  made  him  a  furious  bigoted  persecutor  of 
the  faith,  made  him  a  most  zealous  courageous  de¬ 
fender  of  the  faith. 

(3.)  This  brought  him  into  peril  of  his  life,  with 
which  he  narrowly  escaped ;  The  Grecians,  when 
they  found  they  could  not  deal  with  him  in  disputa¬ 
tion,  contrived  to  silence  him  another  way ;  they 
•went  about  to  slay  him,  as  they  did  Stephen,  when 
they  could  not  resist  the  Spirit  by  which  he  spake,  ch. 
6.  10.  That  is  a  bad  cause,  that  has  recourse  to 
persecution  for  its  last  argument.  But  notice  was 
given  of  this  conspiracy  too,  and  effectual  care  taken 
to  secure  this  young  champion ;  (u.  30. )  When  the 
brethren  knew  what  wasdesigned  against  him,  they 
brought  him  down  to  Cesarea.  They  remembered 
how  the  putting  of  Stephen  to  death,  upon  his  dis¬ 
puting  with  the  Grecians,  had  been  the  beginning 
of  a  sore  persecution  ;  and  therefore  were  afraid  of 
having  such  a  vein  opened  again,  and  hastened  Paul 
out  of  the  way.  He  that  flies,  may  fight  again  ;  he 
that  fled  from  Jerusalem,  might  do  service  at  Tar¬ 
sus,  the  place  of  his  nativity  ;  and  thither  they  de¬ 
sired  him  by  all  means  to  go,  in  hopes  he  might  go 
on  in  his  work  with  more  safety  than  at  Jerusalem. 
Yet  it  was  also  by  direction  from  heaven  that  he  left 
Jerusalem  at  this  time,  as  he  tells  us  himself,  (ch. 
22.  17,  18.)  that  Christ  now  appeared  to  him,  and 
ordered  him  to  go  quickly  out  of  Jerusalem,  for  he 
must  be  sent  to  the  Gentiles,  v.  21.  Those  by  whom 
God  has  work  to  do,  shall  be  protected  from  all  the 
designs  of  their  enemies  against  them  till  it  is  done. 
Christ’s  witnesses  cannot  be  slain  till  they  have 
finished  their  testimony. 

III.  The  churches  had  now  a  comfortable  gleam 
of  libertv  and  peace  ;  (v.  31.)  Then  had  the  churches  ' 
rest.  Then,  when  Saul  was  converted,  so  some; 
when  that  persecutor  was  taken  off,  those  were 
quiet,  whom  he  used  to  irritate ;  and  then  those 
were  quiet  whom  he  used  to  molest.  Or,  the?i, 
when  he  was  gone  from  Jerusalem,  the  fury  of  the 
Grecian  Jews  was  a  little  abated,  and  they  were  the 


more  willing  to  bear  with  the  other  preachers  now 
that  Saul  was  gone  out  of  the  way.  Observe, 

1.  The  churches  had  rest.  .  After  a  storm  comes 
a  calm.  Though  we  are  always  to  expect  trouble¬ 
some  times,  yet  we  may  expect  that  they  shall  not 
last  always.  This  was  a  breathing-time  allowed 

'  them,  to  prepare  them  for  the  next  encounter, 
j  The  churches  that  were  already  planted,  were 
mostly  in  Judea,  Galilee,  and  Samaria,  within  the 
limits  of  the  Holy  Land.  There  were  the  first 
|  Christian  churches,  where  Christ  had  himself  laid 
the  foundation. 

2.  They  made  a  good  use  of  this  lucid  interval. 

|  Instead  of  growing  secure  and  wanton  in  the  day  of 

their  prosperity,  they  abounded  more  in  their  duty, 
and  made  a  good  use  of  their  tranquillity.  ( 1. )  They 
were  edified,  were  built  up  in  their  most  holy  faith; 
the  more  free  and  constant  enjoyment  they  had  of 
the  means  of  knowledge  and  grace,  the  more  they 
increased  in  knowledge  and  grace.  (2. )  They  walk  - 
ed  in  the  fear  of  the  Lord;  were  more  exemplary 
themselves  for  a  holy  heavenly  conversation.  They 
lived  so  as  that  all  who  conversed  with  them  might 
say,  Surely  the  fear  of  God  reigns  in  those  people. 
(3.)  They  walked  in  the  comfort  of  the  Holy  Ghost ; 
they  were  not  only  faithful,  but  cheerful,  in  religion; 
they  stuck  to  the  ways  of  the  Lord,  and  sang  in  those 
ways.  The  comfort  of  the  Holy  Ghost  was  then- 
consolation,  and  that  which  they  made  their  chief 
joy.  They  had  recourse  to  the  comfort  of  the  Holy 
Ghost,  and  lived  upon  that,  not  only  in  days  of  trou¬ 
ble  and  affliction,  but  in  days  of  rest  and  prosperity. 
The  comforts  of  the  earth,  when  they  had  the  most 
free  and  full  enjoyment  of  them,  could  not  content 
them  without  the  comfort  of  the  Holy  Ghost.  Ob¬ 
serve  the  connection  of  these  two  ;  when  they  walked 
in  the  fear  of  the  Lord,  then  they  walked  in  the 
comfort  of  the  Holy  Ghost.  Those  are  most  likely 
to  walk  cheerfully,  that  walk  circumspectly. 

3.  God  blessed  it  to  them  for  their  increase  in 
number;  They  were  multiplied.  Sometimes  the 
church  multiplies  the  more  for  its  being  afflicted,  as 
Israel  in  Egypt ;  yet  if  it  were  always  so,  the  saints 
of  the  Most  High  w'ould  be  worn  out ;  at  other  times 
its  rest  contributes  to  its  growth,  as  it  enlarges  the 
opportunity  of  ministers,  and  invites  those  in,  who 
at  first  are  afraid  of  suffering.  Or,  then,  when  they 
walked  in  the  fear  of  God  and  his  com  forts,  then  they 
were  multiplied.  Thus  they  that  will  not  be  won  by 
the  word,  may  be  won  by  the  conversation  of  pro¬ 
fessors. 

32.  And  it  came  to  pass,  as  Peter  passed 
throughout  all  quarters,  he  came  down  also 
to  the  saints  which  dwelt  at  Lydda.  33. 
And  there  he  found  a  certain  man  named 
Eneas,  which  had  kept  his  bed  eight  years, 
and  was  sick  of  the  palsy.  34.  And  Peter 
said  unto  him,  Eneas,  Jesus  Christ  maketh 
thee  whole  :  arise,  and  make  thy  bed.  And 
he  arose  immediately.  35.  And  all  that 
dwelt  in  Lydda  and  Saron  saw  him,  and 
turned  to  the  Lord. 

Here  we  have, 

I.  The  visit  Peter  made  to  the  churches  that  were 
newlv  planted  by  the  dispersed  preachers,  v.  32. 

1.  He  passed  through  all  quarters ;  as  an  apostle, 
he  w’as  not  to  be  the  resident  pastor  of  any  one 
church,  but  the  itinerant  visitor  of  many  churches; 
to  confirm  the  doctrine  of  inferior  preachers,  to  con¬ 
fer  the  Holy  Ghost  on  them  that  believed,  and  to  or¬ 
dain  ministers.  He  passed  Sia  urdvruv — among  them 
all,  who  pertained  to  the  churches  of  Judea,  Gali¬ 
lee,  and  Samaria,  mentioned  in  the  foregoing  chap- 


97 


THE  ACTS,  IX. 


ter.  He  was,  like  his  Master,  always  upon  the  re¬ 
move,  and  went  about  doing  good ;  but  still  his  head¬ 
quarters  were  at  Jerusalem,  for  there  we  shall  find 
him  imprisoned,  ch.  12. 

2.  He  came  to  the  saints  at  Lydda  ;  this  seems  to 
be  the  same  with  Lod,  a  city  in  the  tribe  of  Benja¬ 
min,  mentioned  1  Chron.  8.  12.  Ezra  2.  33.  The 
Christians  are  called  saints,  not  only  some  particular 
eminent  ones,  as  saint  Peter,  and  saint  Paul,  but 
every  sincere  professor  of  the  faith  of  Christ.  These 
are  the  saints  on  the  earth ,  Ps.  16.  3. 

II.  The  cure  Peter  wrought  on  Eneas,  a  man  that 
had  been  bedrid  eight  years,  v.  33. 

1.  His  case  was  very  deplorable ;  he  was  sick  of 
the  palsy,  a  dumb  palsy,  perhaps  a  dead  palsy  ;  the 
disease  was  extreme,  for  he  kept  his  bed ;  it  was  in¬ 
veterate,  for  he  kept  his  bed  eight  years;  and  we 
may  suppose  that  both  he  himself  and  all  about  him 
despaired  of  relief  for  him,  and  concluded  upon  no 
other  than  that  he  must  still  keep  his  bed  till  he  re¬ 
moved  to  his  grave.  Christ  chose  such  patients  as 
those,  whose  diseases  were  incurable  in  a  course  of 
nature,  to  shew  how  desperate  the  case  of  fallen 
mankind  w;as  when  he  undertook  their  cure.  When 
we  were  without  strength,  as  this  poor  man,  he  sent 
his  word  to  heal  us. 

2.  His  cure  was  very  admirable,  v.  34.  (1.)  Peter 
interested  Christ  in  his  case,  and  engaged  him  for 
his  relief ;  Eneas,  Jesus  Christ  maketh  thee  whole. 
Peter  does  not  pretend  to  do  it  himself  by  any  power 
of  his  own,  but  declares  it  to  be  Christ’s  act  and 
deed,  and  directs  him  to  look  up  to  Christ  for  help, 
and  assures  him  of  an  immediate  cure  ;  not,  “He 
will  make  thee,”  but,  “He  does  make  thee,  whole 
he  assures  him  also  of  a  perfect  cure;  not,  “He 
makes  thee  easy, ’’but,  “He  makes  thee  whole.” 
He  does  not  express  himself  by  way  of  prayer  to 
Christ  that  he  would  make  him  whole,  but  as  one 
having  authority  from  Christ,  and  that  knew  his 
mind,  he  declares  him  made  whole.  (2.)  He  or¬ 
dered  him  to  bestir  himself,  to  exert  himself,  “Arise 
and  mak thy  bed,  that  all  may  see  thou  art  tho¬ 
roughly  cured.  ”  Let  none  say,  that  because  it  is 
Christ  that  by  the  power  of  his  grace  works  all  our 
works  in  us,  therefore  we  have  no  work,  no  duty,  to 
do ;  for  though  Jesus  Christ  makes  thee  whole,  yet 
thou  must  arise,  and  make  use  of  the  power  he  gives 
thee.  Arise,  and  make  thy  bed,  for  another  use 
than  it  has  been,  to  be  a  bed  of  rest  to  thee,  no 
longer  a  bed  of  sickness.  (3.)  Power  went  along 
with  this  word :  he  arose  immediately,  and,  no 
doubt,  very  willingly  made  his  own  bed. 

III.  The  good  influence  this  had  upon  many;  ( v . 
35.)  All  that  dwelt  at  Lydda  and  Saron  saw  him, 
and  turned  to  the  Lord.  We  can  scarcely  think 
that  every  individual  person  in  those  countries  took 
cognizance  of  the  miracle,  and  was  wrought  upon  by 
it,  but  many,  the  generality  of  the  people  in  the 
town  of  Lydda  and  in  the  country  of  Saron,  or  Sha¬ 
ron,  a  fruitful  plain  or  valley,  of  which  it  was  fore¬ 
told,  Sharon  shall  be  a  fold  of  flocks,  Isa.  65.  10. 

1.  They  all  made  inquiry  into  the  truth  of  the 
miracle,  did  not  overlook  it,  but  saw  him  that  was 
healed,  and  saw  that  it  was  a  miraculous  cure  that 
was  w  rought  upon  him  by  the  power  of  Christ,  in 
his  name,  and  with  a  design  to  confirm  and  ratify 
that  doctrine  of  Christ  which  was  now  preached  to 
the  world. 

2.  They  all  submitted  to  the  convincing  proof  and 
evidence  there  was  in  this  of  the  divine  original  of 
the  Christian  doctrine,  and  turned  to  the  Lord,  to 
the  Lord  Jesus  ;  they  turned  from  Judaism  to  Chris¬ 
tianity  ;  they  embraced  the  doctrine  of  Christ,  and 
submitted  to  his  ordinances  ;  and  turned  themselves 
over  to  him  to  be  ruled  and  taught  and  saved  by  him. 

36.  Now  there  was  at  Joppa  a  certain 
Vor..  vi.- -N 


disciple  named  Tabitha,  which  by  inter¬ 
pretation  is  called  Dorcas  :  this  woman  was 
full  of  good  works  and  alms-deeds  which 
she  did.  37.  And  it  came  to  pass  in  those 
days,  that  she  was  sick,  and  died :  whom 
when  they  had  washed,  they  laid  her  in  an 
upper  chamber.  38.  And  forasmuch  as 
Lydda  was  nigh  to  Joppa,  and  the  disciples 
had  heard  that  Peter  was  there,  they  sent 
unto  him  two  men,  desiring,  him  that  he 
would  not  delay  to  come  to  them.  39. 
Then  Peter  arose,  and  went  with  them. 
When  he  was  come,  they  brought  him  into 
the  upper  chamber:  and  all  the  widows 
stood  by  him  weeping,  and  shewing  the 
coats  and  garments  which  Dorcas  made, 
while  she  was  with  them.  40.  But  Peter 
put  them  all  forth,  and  kneeled  down,  and 
prayed ;  and  turning  him  to  the  body,  said, 
Tabitha,  arise.  And  she  opened  her  eyes : 
and  when  she  saw  Peter,  she  sat  up.  41. 
And  he  gave  her  his  hand,  and  lifted  her 
up,  and  when  he  had  called  the  saints  and 
widows,  he  presented  her  alive.  42.  And 
it  was  known  throughout  all  Joppa;  and 
many  believed  in  the  Lord.  43.  And  it 
came  to  pass,  that  he  tarried  many  days  in 
Joppa  with  one  Simon  a  tanner. 

Here  we  have  a  greater  miracle  wrought  by  Peter, 
for  the  confirming  of  the  gospel,  and  which  ex¬ 
ceeded  the  former — the  raising  of  Tabitha  to  life 
when  she  had  been  for  seme  time  dead.  Here  is, 

I.  The  life  and  death  and  character  of  Tabitha, 
on  whom  this  miracle  was  wrought,  v.  36,  37. 

1.  She  lived  at  Joppa,  a  sea-port  town  in  the  tribe 
of  Dan,  where  Jonah  took  shipping  to  go  to  Tar- 
shisli,  now  called  Japho. 

2.  Her  name  was  Tabitha,  a  Hebrew  name,  the 
Greek  for  which  is  Dorcas,  both  signifying  a  doe,  or 
hind,  or  deer,  a  pleasant  creature.  Kaphtali  is  com¬ 
pared  to  a  hind  let  loose,  giving  goodly  words  ;  and 
the  wife  to  the  kind  and  tender  husband,  is  as  the 
loving  hind,  and  as  the  pleasant  roe,  Prov.  5.  19. 

3.  She  was  a  disciple,  one  that  had  embraced  the 
faith  of  Christ  and  was  baptized ;  and  not  only  so, 
but  was  eminent  above  many  for  works  of  charity  ; 
she  shewed  her  faith  by  her  works,  her  good  works, 
which  she  was  full  of,  that  is,  which  she  abounded 
in  ;  her  head  was  full  of  cares  and  contrivances  which 
way  she  could  do  good.  She  devised  liberal  things, 
Isa.  32.  8.  Her  hands  were  full  of  good  employ 
ment,  she  made  a  business  of  doing  good,  was  never 
idle,  having  learned  to  maintain  good  works,  (Tit. 

3.  8.)  to  keep  up  a  constant  course  and  method  of 
them.  She  was  full  of  good  works,  as  a  tree  that 
is  full  of  fruit.  Many  are  full  of  good  words,  who 
are  empty  and  barren  in  good  works ;  but  Tabitha 
was  a  great  doer,  no  great  talker;  JVon  magna 
loquimur,  sed  vivimus —  We  do  not  talk  greu.  .kings, 
we  live  them.  Among  other  good  works,  she  w  as 
remarkable  for  her  alms-deeds  which  she  did,  not 
only  her  works  of  piety,  which  are  good  works  and 
the  fruits  of  faith,  but  works  of  charity  and  benefi¬ 
cence,  flowing  from  love  to  our  neighbour  and  a  holy 
contempt  of  this  world.  Observe,  She  is  praised 
not  only  for  the  alms  which  she  g.i»e,  but  for  the 
alms-deeds  which  she  did.  Those  that  have  not 
estates  wherewith  to  give  in  charity,  may  yet  V 


THE  ACTS,  JX. 


able  to  do  in  charity,  working  with  their  hands,  or 
walking  with  their  feet,  for  the  benefit  of  the  poor. 
And  they  who  will  not  do  a  charitable  deed,  what¬ 
ever  they  may  pretend,  if  they  were  rich  would  not 
bestow  a  charitable  gift.  She  was  full  of  alms-deeds, 
a>v  v rolu — which  she  made  ;  there  is  an  emphasis  upon 
her  doing  them,  because  what  her  hand  found  to  do  of 
this  kind  she  did  with  all  her  might,  and  persevered 
in.  They  were  alms-deeds,  not  which  she  proposed 
and  designed  and  said  she  would  do,  but  which  she 
did  ;  not  which  she  began  to  do,  but  which  she  did, 
which  she  went  through  with,  which  she  performed 
the  doing  of ,  2  Cor.  8.  11. — 9.  7.  T.  his  is  the  life 
and  character  of  a  certain  disciple,  and  should  agree 
to  all  the  disciples  of  Christ ;  for  if  thus  we  bear 
much  fruit,  then  are  we  his  disciples  indeed,  John 
15.  8. 

4.  She  was  removed  in  the  midst  of  her  useful¬ 
ness  ;  (v.  37.)  In  those  days  she  fell  sick,  and  died. 

It  is  promised  to  those  who  consider  the  poor,  not 
that  they  shall  never  be  sick,  but  that  the  Lord  will 
strengthen  them  upon  the  bed  of  languishing,  at 
least  with  strength  in  their  soul,  and  so  will  make 
all  their  bed  in  their  sickness,  will  make  it  easy,  Ps. 
41.  1,  3.  They  cannot  hope  that  they  shall  never 
die,  (merciful  men  are  taken  away,  and  merciful 
women  too,  witness  Tabitha,)  but  they  may  hope 
that  they  shall  find  mercy  of  the  Lord  in  that  day, 

2  Tim.  1.  18. 

5.  Her  friends  and  those  about  her  did  not  pre¬ 
sently  bury  her,  as  usual,  because  they  were  in  hopes 
Peter  would  come  and  raise  her  to  life  again  ;  but 
they  washed  the  dead  body,  according  to  the  cus¬ 
tom,  which,  they  say,  was  with  warm  water,  which, 
if  there  were  any  life  remaining  in  the  body,  would 
recover  it ;  so  that  this  was  done  to  shew  that  she 
was  really  and  truly  dead ;  they  tried  all  the  usual 
methods  to  bring  her  to  life,  and  could  not.  Con- 
clamatum  est — the  last  cry  was  uttered.  They  laid 
her  out  in  her  grave-clothes  in  an  upper  chamber  ; 
which  Dr.  Lightfoot  thinks  was,  probably,  the  pub¬ 
lic  meeting-room  for  the  believers  of  that  town  ; 
and  they  laid  the  body  there,  that  Peter,  if  he  would 
come,  might  raise  her  to  life  the  more  solemnly  in 
that  place. 

II.  The  request  which  her  Christian  friends  sent 
to  Peter  to  come  to  them  with  all  speed,  not  to  at¬ 
tend  the  funeral,  but,  if  it  might  be,  to  prevent  it, 
v.  38.  Lydda,  where  Peter  now  was,  was  nigh  to 
Joppa,  and  the  disciples  at  Joppa  had  heard  that 
Peter  was  there,  and  that  he  had  raised  Eneas 
from  a  bed  of  languishing  ;  and  therefore  they  sent 
to  him  two  men,  to  make  the  message  the  more  so¬ 
lemn  and  respectful,  desiring  him  that  he  would  not 
delay  to  come  to  them  ;  not  telling  him  the  occasion, 
lest  he  should  modestly  decline  coming  upon  so 
great  an  errand  as  to  raise  the  dead  ;  if  they  can  but 
get  him  to  them,  they  will  leave  it  to  him.  Their 
friend  was  dead,  and  it  was  too  late  to  send  for  a 
physician,  but  not  too  late  to  send  for  Peter.  Post 
mortem  medicus — a  physician  after  death  is  an  ab¬ 
surdity,  but  not  Post  mortem  apostolus — an  apostle 
after  death. 

III.  The  posture  in  which  he  found  the  surviving, 
when  he  came  to  them  ;  (v.  39. )  Peter  arose,  and 
went  with  them.  Though  they  did  not  tell  him 
what  they  wanted  him  for,  yet  he  was  willing  to  go 
along  with  them,  believing  it  was  upon  some  good 
account  or  other  that  he  was  sent  for.  Let  not 
faithful  ministers  grudge  to  be  at  every  body’s  beck, 
as  far  as  they  have  ability,  when  the  great  apostle 
made  himself  the  servant  of  all,  1  Cor.  9.  19.  He 
found  the  corpse  laid  in  the  upper  chamber,  and  at¬ 
tended  by  widows ;  probably  such  as  were  in  the 
communion  of  the  church,  poor  widows ;  there  they 
were, 

1.  Commending  the  deceased ;  a  good  work, 


when  there  was  that  in  them  which  was  truly  com  • 
mendable,  and  recommendable  to  imitation,  and  it 
is  done  modestly  and  soberly,  and  without  flattery 
of  the  survivors  or  any  sinister  intention,  but  purely 
for  the  glory  of  God,  and  the  exciting  of  others  to 
that  which  is  virtuous  and  praise-worthy.  The 
commendation  of  Tabitha  was  like  her  own  virtues, 
not  in  word,  but  in  deed.  Here  were  no  encomiums 
of  her  in  orations,  or  poems  inscribed  to  her  memo¬ 
ry  ;  but  the  widows  shewed  the  coats  and  garments 
which  she  made  for  them,  and  bestowed  upon  them 
while  she  was  with  them.  It  was  the  comfort  of  Job, 
while  he  lived,  that  the  loins  of  the  poor  blessed  him, 
because  they  were  warmed  with  the  fleece  of  his 
sheep,  Job  31.  20.  And  here  it  was  the  credit  of 
Tabitha,  when  she  was  dead,  that  the  backs  of  the 
widows  praised  her  for  the  garments  which  she 
made  them.  And  those  are  certainly  best  praised, 
whose  own  works  praise  them  in  the  gates,  whether 
the  words  of  others  do  or  no.  And  it  is  much  more 
honourable  to  clothe  a  company  of  decrepit  widows 
with  needful  clothing  for  night  and  day,  who  will 
pray  for  their  benefactors  when  they  do  not  see  • 
them,  than  to  clothe  a  company  of  lazy  footmen 
with  rich  liveries,  who  perhaps  behind  their  backs 
will  curse  them  that  clothe  them  ;  (Eccl.  7.  21.) 
and  it  is  what  all  that  are  wise  and  good  will  take  a 
greater  pleasure  in  ;  for  goodness  is  true  greatness, 
and  will  pass  better  in  the  account  shortly.  Ob¬ 
serve,  (1.)  Into  what  channel  Tabitha  turned  much 
of  her  charity  ;  doubtless  there  were  other  instances 
of  her  alms-deeds  which  she  did,  but  this  was  now 
produced  ;  she  did,  as  it  should  seem,  with  her  own 
hands,  make  coats  and  garments  for  poor  widows, 
who  perhaps  with  their  own  labour  could  make  a 
shift  to  get  their  bread,  but  could  not  earn  enough 
to  buy  clothes.  And  this  is  an  excellent  piece  of 
charity,  If  thou  seest  the  naked,  that  thou  cover  him, 
(Isa.  58.  7.)  and  not  to  think  it  enough  to  say,  Be  ye 
warmed,  James  2.  15,  16.  (2.)  What  a  grateful 

sense  the  poor  had  of  her  kindness  ;  They  shewed 
the  coats,  not  ashamed  to  own  that  they  were  in¬ 
debted  to  her  for  the  clothes  on  their  backs.  Those 
are  horribly  ungrateful  indeed,  who  have  kindness 
shewn  them,  and  will  not  make  at  least  an  acknow¬ 
ledgment  of  it,  by  shewing  the  kindness  that  is  done 
them,  as  these  widows  here  did.  Those  who  re¬ 
ceive  alms,  are  not  obliged  so  industriously  to  con¬ 
ceal  it,  as  those  are  who  give  alms.  When  the 
poor  reflect  upon  the  rich  as  uncharitable  and  un¬ 
merciful,  they  ought  to  reflect  upon  themselves,  and 
consider  whether  they  are  not  unthankful  and  un¬ 
grateful.  Their  shewing  the  coats  and  garments 
which  Dorcas  made,  tended  to  the  praise  not  only 
of  her  charity,  but  of  her  industry,  according  to  the 
character  of  the  virtuous  woman,  that  she  lays  her 
hands  to  the  spindle,  or  at  least  to  the  needle,  and 
then  stretches  out  her  hand  to  the  poor,  and  reaches 
forth  her  hands  to  the  needy,  of  what  she  l>as  work-, 
ed  ;  and  w'hen  God  and  the  poor  have  thus  had 
their  due  she  makes  herself  coverings  of  tapestry, 
and  her  own  clothing  is  silk  and  purple,  Prov.  31. 
19—22. 

2.  They  were  here  lamenting  the  loss  of  her ;  the 
widows  stood  by  Peter,  weeping.  When  the  mer¬ 
ciful  are  taken  away,  it  should  be  laid  to  heart,  es¬ 
pecially  by  those  to  whom  they  have  been  in  a  par¬ 
ticular  manner  merciful.  They  needed  not  to  weep 
for  her  ;  she  was  taken  from  the  evil  to  come,  she 
rests  from  her  labours,  and  her  works  follow  her, 
beside  those  she  leaves  behind  her :  but  they  weep 
for  themselves  and  for  their  children,  who  will  soon 
find  the  want  of  such  a  good  woman,  that  had  not  left 
her  fellow'.  Observe,  They  take  notice  of  what  good 
Dorcas  did  while  she  was  with  them  ;  but  now  she 
is  gone  from  them,  and  that  is  the  grief.  Those 
that  are  charitable  will  find  that  the  poor  they  have 


99 


THE  ACTS,  X. 


always  with  them ;  but  it  is  well  if  those  that  are 
poor  find  that  the  charitable  they  have  always  with 
them.  We  must  make  a  good  use  of  the  lights  that 
yet  a  little  while  are  with  us,  because  they  will  not 
be  always  with  us,  will  not  be  long  with  us :  and 
when  they  are  gone,  we  shall  think  what  they  did 
when  they  were  with  us.  It  should  seem,  the  wi¬ 
dows  wept  before  Peter,  as  an  inducement  to  him, 
if  he  could  do  any  thing,  to  have  compassion  on 
them  and  help  them,  and  restore  one  to  them  that 
used  to  have  compassion  on  them.  When  charita¬ 
ble  people  are  dead,  there  is  no  praying  them  to  life 
again  ;  but  when  they  are  sick,  that  piece  of  grati¬ 
tude  is  owing  them,  to  pray  for  their  recovery,  that, 
if  it  be  the  will  of  God,  those  may  be  spared  to  live, 
who  can  ill  be  spared  to  die. 

IV.  The  manner  how  she  was  raised  to  life. 

1.  Privately  ;  she  was  laid  in  the  upper  room, 
where  they  used  to  have  their  public  meetings,  and, 
it  should  seem,  there  was  great  crowding  about  the 
dead  body,  in  expectation  of  what  would  be  done  ; 
but  Peter  put  them  all  forth,  all  the  weeping  wi¬ 
dows,  all  but  some  few  relations  of  the  family,  or 
perhaps  the  heads  of  the  church,  to  join  with  him  in 
prayer ;  as  Christ  did,  Matt.  9.  25.  Thus  Peter  de¬ 
clined  every  thing  that  looked  like  vainglory  and 
ostentation  ;  they  came  to  see,  but  he  did  not  come 
to  be  seen.  He  put  them  all  forth,  that  he  might 
with  the  more  freedom  pour  out  his  soul  before  God 
in  prayer  upon  this  occasion,  and  not  be  disturbed 
with  their  noisy  and  clamourous  lamentations. 

2.  By  prayer ;  in  his  healing  Eneas  there  was  an 
implicit  prayer,  but  in  this  greater  work  he  address¬ 
ed  himself  to  God  by  solemn  prayer,  as  Christ  when 
he  raised  Lazarus  :  but  Christ’s  prayer  was  with 
the  authority  of  a  Son,  who  quickens  whom  he  will; 
Peter’s,  with  the  submission  of  a  servant,  who  is 
under  direction,  and  therefore  he  kneeled  down  and 
prayed. 

3.  By  the  word,  a  quickening  word,  a  word  which 
is  spirit  and  life  ;  he  turned  to  the  body ,  which  inti¬ 
mates  that  when  he  prayed  he  turned/row?  it ;  lest 
the  sight  of  it  should  discourage  his  faith,  he  looked 
another  way,  to  teach  us,  like  Abraham,  against 
hope,  to  believe  in  hope,  and  overlook  the  difficulties 
that  lie  in  the  way,  not  considering  the  body  as  now 
dead,  lest  he  should  stoker  the  promise,  Rom.  4. 
19,  20.  But  when  he  had  prayed,  he  turned  to  the 
body,  and  spake  in  his  Master’s  name,  and  accord¬ 
ing  to  his  example,  “  Tabitha,  arise  ;  return  to  life 
again.”  Power  went  along  with  this  word,  and  she 
came  to  life,  opened  her  eyes  which  death  had  clos¬ 
ed.  Thus  in  the  raising  of  dead  souls  to  spiritual 
life,  the  first  sign  of  life  is  the  opening  of  the  eyes  of 
the  mind,  ch.  26.  18.  When  she  saw  Peter,  she  sat 
up,  to  shew  that  she  was  really  and  truly  alive  ;  and 
(z>.  41.)  he  gave  her  his  hand  and  lift  her  up;  not 
as  if  she  laboured  under  any  remaining  weakness  ; 
but  thus  he  would  as  it  were  welcome  her  to  life 
again,  and  give  her  the  right  hand  of  fellowship 
among  the  living,  from  whom  she  had  been  cut  off. 
And  lastly,  he  called  the  saints  and  widows,  who 
were  all  in  sorrow  for  her  death,  and  presented  her 
alive  to  them,  to  their  great  comfort ;  particularly 
of  the  widows,  who  laid  her  death  much  to  heart, 
(?>.  41.)  to  them  he  presented  her,  as  Elijah,  (1 
Kings  17.  23.)  and  Elisha,  (2  Kings  4.  36.)  and 
Christ,  (Luke  7.  15A  presented  the  dead  sons  alive 
to  their  mothers.  The  greatest  joy  and  satisfaction 
are  expressed  by  life  from  the  dead. 

V.  The  good  effect  of  this  miracle. 

1.  Many  were  by  it  convinced  of  the  truth  of  the 
gospel,  that  it  was  from  heaven,  and  not  of  men, 
and  believed  in  the  Lord,  v.  42.  The  thing  was 
known  .  hroughout  all  Joppa ;  it  would  be  in  every 
body’s  mouth  quickly,  and  it  being  a  town  of  seafar¬ 
ing  men,  the  notice  of  it  would  be  the  sooner  carried 


from  thence  to  other  countries ;  and  though  some 
never  minded  it,  many  were  wrought  upon  by  it. 
This  was  the  end  of  miracles,  to  confirm  a  divine 
revelation. 

2.  Peter  was  hereby  induced  to  continue  some 
time  in  this  city,  v.  43.  Finding  that  a  door  of  op¬ 
portunity  was  opened  for  him  there,  he  tarried 
there  many  days,  till  he  was  sent  thence,  and  sent 
for  from  thence  upon  business  to  another  place.  He 
tarried  not  in  the  house  of  Tabitha,  though  she  was 
rich,  lest  he  should  seem  to  seek  his  own  glory  ;  but 
he  took  up  his  lodgings  with  one  Simon  a  tanner,  an 
ordinary  tradesman,  which  is  an  instance  of  his  con¬ 
descension  and  humility  :  and  hereby  he  has  taught 
us  not  to  mind  high  things,  but  to  condescend  to 
them  of  low  estate,  Rom.  12.  16.  And  though  Peter 
might  seem  to  be  buried  in  obscurity  here  in  the 
house  of  a  poor  tanner  by  the  sea-side,  yet  hence 
God  fetched  him  to  a  noble  piece  of  service  in  the 
next  chapter;  for  those  that  humble  themselves 
shall  be  exalted. 

CHAP.  X. 

It  is  a  turn  very  new  and  remarkable,  which  the  story  of  this 
chapter  gives  to  the  Acts  of  the  apostles  ;  hitherto,  both  at 
Jerusalem  and  every  where  else  where  the  ministers  of 
Christ  came,  they  preached  the  gospel  only  to  the  Jews,  or 
those  Greeks  that  were  circumcised  and  proselyted  to  the 
Jews’ religion  ;  but  now,  Lo,  we  turn  to  the  Gentiles  ;  and 
to  them  the  door  of  faith  is  here  opened :  good  news  indeed 
to  us  sinners  of  the  Gentiles.  The  apostle  Peter  is  the 
man  that  is  first  employed  to  admit  uncircumcised  Gen¬ 
tiles  into  the  Christian  church ;  and  Cornelius,  a  Roman 
centurion  or  colonel,  is  the  first  that  with  his  family  and 
friends  is  so  admitted.  Now  here  we  are  told,  I.  How 
Cornelius  was  directed  by  a  vision  to  send  for  Peter,  and 
did  send  for  him  accordingly,  v.  1..8.  II.  How  Peter 
was  directed  by  a  vision  to  go  to  Cornelius,  though  he  was 
a  Gentile,  without  making  any  scruple  of  it;  and  did  go 
accordingly,  v.  9  . .  23.  III.  The  happy  interview  between 
Peter  and  Cornelius  at  Cesarea,  v.  24 . .  33.  IV.  The  ser¬ 
mon  Peter  preached  in  the  house  of  Cornelius  to  him  and 
to  his  friends,  v.  34.. 43.  V.  The  baptizing  of  Cornelius 
and  his  friends  with  the  Holy  Ghost  first,  and  then  with 
water,  v.  44 . .  48. 

1.  rpHERE  was  a  certain  man  in  Ce- 
JL  sarea,  called  Cornelius,  a  centurion 
of  the  band  called  the  Italian  band,  2.  A 
devout  man,  and  one  that  feared  God  with 
all  his  house,  which  gave  much  alms  to  the 
people,  and  prayed  to  God  alway.  3.  He 
saw  in  a  vision  evidently,  about  the  ninth 
hour  of  the  day,  an  angel  of  God  coming 
in  to  him,  and  saying  unto  him,  Cornelius. 
4.  And  when  he  looked  on  him,  he  was 
afraid,  and  said,  What  is  it,  Lord  ?  And 
he  said  unto  him,  Thy  prayers  and  thine 
alms  are  come  up  for  a  memorial  before 
God.  5.  And  now  send  men  to  Joppa, 
and  call  for  one  Simon,  whose  surname  is 
Peter:  6.  He  lodgeth  with  one  Simon  a 
tanner,  whose  house  is  by  the  sea-side  :  he 
shall  tell  thee  what  thou  oughtest  to  do. 
7.  And  when  the  angel  which  spake  unto 
Cornelius  was  departed,  he  called  two  of 
his  household  servants,  and  a  devout  sol¬ 
dier  of  them  that  waited  on  him  continu¬ 
ally  ;  8.  And  when  he  had  declared  all 
these  things  unto  them,  he  sent  them  to 
Joppa. 

The  bringing  of  the  gospel  to  the  Gentiles,  and 
the  bringing  of  them  who  had  been  strangers  and 


100 


THE  ACTS,  X. 


foreigners  to  be  fellow-citizens  with  the  saints,  and 
of  the  household  of  God,  were  such  a  mystery  to  the 
apostles  themselves,  and  such  a  surprise,  (Eph.  3. 
3,  6. )  that  it  concerns  us  carefully  to  observe  all  the 
circumstances  of  the  beginning  of  this  great  work, 
this  part  of  the  mystery  of  Godliness — Christ  / treach- 
ed  to  the  Gentiles,  and  believed  on  in  the  world,  1 
Tim.  3.  16.  It  is  not  unlikely  that  some  Gentiles 
might  before  now  have  stepped  into  a  synagogue  of 
the  Jews,  and  heard  the  gospel  preached  ;  but  the 
gospel  was  never  yet  designedly  preached  to  the 
Gentiles,  nor  any  of  them  baptized,  Cornelius  was 
the  first.  And  here  we  have, 

I.  An  account  given  us  of  this  Cornelius,  who  and 
what  he  was,  that  was  the  first-born  of  the  Gentiles 
to  Christ.  We  are  here  told  that  he  was  a  great 
man  and  a  good  man  ;  two  characters  that  seldom 
meet,  but  here  they  did  :  and  where  they  do  meet, 
they  put  a  lustre  upon  each  other  ;  goodness  makes 
greatness  truly  valuable,  and  greatness  makes  good¬ 
ness  much  more  serviceable. 

1.  Cornelius  was  an  officer  of  the  army,  v.  1.  He 
was  at  present  quartered  in  Cesarea,  a  strong  city, 
lately  re-edified  and  fortified  by  Herod  the  Great, 
and  called  Cesarea  in  honour  of  Augustus  Caesar. 
It  lay  upon  the  sea-shore,  very  convenient  for  the 
keeping  up  of  a  correspondence  between  Rome  and 
its  conquests  in  those  parts.  The  Roman  governor 
or  proconsul  ordinarily  resided  here,  ch.  23.  23,  24. 
— 25.  6.  Here  was  a  band,  or  cohort,  or  regiment, 
of  the  Roman  army,  which  probably  was  the  go¬ 
vernor’s  life-guard,  and  is  here  called  the  Italian 
band  ;  because,  that  they  might  be  the  more  sure 
of  their  fidelity,  they  were  all  native  Romans,  or 
Italians  ;  Cornelius  had  a  command  in  this  part  of 
the  army.  His  name,  Cornelius,  was  much  used 
among  the  Romans,  among  some  of  the  most  ancient 
and  noble  families.  He  was  an  officer  of  considera¬ 
ble  rank  and  figure,  a  centurion.  We  read  of  one 
in  our  Saviour’s  time  of  that  rank,  whom  he  gave  a 
great  commendation  of,  Matt.  8.  10.  When  a  Gen¬ 
tile  must  be  pitched  upon  to  receive  the  gospel  first, 
it  is  not  a  Gentile  philosopher,  much  less  a  Gentile 
priest,  (who  are  bigoted  to  their  notions  and  worship, 
and  prejudiced  against  the  gospel  of  Christ,)  but  a 
Gentile  soldier,  who  is  a  man  of  more  free  thought; 
and  he  that  truly  is  so,  when  the  Christian  doctrine 
is  fairly  set  before  him,  cannot  but  receive  it,  and 
bid  it  welcome.  Fishermen,  unlearned  and  igno¬ 
rant  men,  were  the  first  of  the  Jewish  converts,  but 
not  so  of  the  Gentiles  ;  for  the  world  shall  know  that 
the  gospel  has  that  in  it  which  may  recommend  it 
to  men  of  polite  learning  and  a  liberal  education,  as 
we  have  reason  to  think  this  centurion  was.  Let 
not  soldiers  and  officers  of  the  army  plead  that  their 
employment  frees  them  from  the  restraints  which 
some  others  are  under,  and  giving  them  an  oppor¬ 
tunity  of  living  more  at  large,  may  excuse  them  if 
they  be  not  religious  ;  for  here  was  an  officer  of  the 
army  that  embraced  Christianity,  and  yet  was  neither 
turned  put  of  his  place,  nor  turned  himself  out.  And 
lastly,  it  was  a  mortification  to  the  Jews,  that  not 
only  the  Gentiles  were  taken  into  the  church,  but 
that  the  first  who  was  taken  in,  was  an  officer  of  the 
Roman  army,  which  was  to  them  the  abomination 
of  desolation. 

2.  He  was,  according  to  the  measure  of  the  light 
he  had,  a  religious  man  ;  it  is  a  very  good  charac¬ 
ter  that  is  given  of  him,  v.  2.  He  was  no  idolater, 
no  worshipper  of  false  gods  or  images,  nor  allowed 
himself  in  anv  of  those  immoralities  which  the 
greater  part  of  the  Gentile  world  were  given  up  to, 
to  punish  them  for  their  idolatry.  (1.)  He  was  pos¬ 
sessed  with  a  principle  of  regard  to  the  true  and  liv¬ 
ing  God  ;  he  was  a  devout  man,  and  one  that  feared 
God ;  he  believed  in  one  God,  the  Creator  of  hea¬ 
ven  and  earth,  and  had  a  reverence  for  h  s  glory  and 


authority,  and  a  dread  of  offending  him  by  sin  ;  and 
though  he  was  a  soldier,  it  was  no  diminution  to  the 
credit  of  his  valour  to  tremble  before  God.  (2. )  He 
kept  up  religion  in  his  family  ;  he  feared  God  with 
all  his  house.  He  would  not  admit  any  idolaters  un¬ 
der  his  roof  ;  but  took  care  that  not  himself  only, 
but  all  his,  should  serve  the  Lord.  Every  good  man 
will  do  what  he  can  that  those  about  him  may  be 
good  too.  (3.)  He  was  a  very  charitable  man  ;  he 

f'ave  much  alms  to  the  people,  the  people  of  the 
ews,  notwithstanding  the  singularities  ot  their  reli¬ 
gion.  Though  he  was  a  Gentile,  he  was  willing  to 
contribute  to  the  relief  of  one  that  was  a  real  ob¬ 
ject  of  charity,  without  asking  what  religion  he  was 
of.  (4.)  He  was  much  in  prayer ;  he  prayed  to  God 
always.  He  kept  up  stated  times  for  prayer,  and 
was  constant  to  them.  Note,  Wherever  the  fear 
of  God  rules  in  the  heart,  it  will  appear  both  in 
works  of  charity  and  of  piety,  and  neither  will  ex 
cuse  us  from  the  other. 

II.  The  orders  given  him  from  heaven  by  the  min¬ 
istry  of  an  angel,  to  send  for  Peter  to  come  to  him  ; 
which  he  would  never  have  done,  if  he  had  net  been 
thus  directed  to  do  it.  Observe, 

1.  How,  and  in  what  way,  these  orders  were  given 
him  ;  he  had  a  vision,  in  which  an  angel  delivered 
them  to  him.  It  was  about  the  ninth  hour  of  the 
day,  at  three  of  the  clock  in  the  afternoon,  which  is 
with  us  an  hour  of  business  and  conversation  ;  but 
then,  because  it  was  in  the  temple  the  time  of  the 
offering  of  the  evening  sacrifice,  it  was  made  by  de¬ 
vout  people  an  hour  of  prayer,  to  intimate  that  all 
our  prayers  are  to  be  offered  up  in  the  virtue  of  the 
great  Sacrifice.  Cornelius  was  now  at  prayer  ;  so 
he  tells  us  himself,  v.  30.  Now  .here  we  are  told, 
(1.)  That  an  angel  of  God  came  in  to  him.  By  the 
brightness  of  his  countenance,  and  the  manner  of 
his  coming  in,  he  knew  him  to  be  something  more 
than  man,  and  therefore  nothing  less  than  an  angel, 
an  express  from  heaven.  (2.)  That  he  saw  him 
evidently  with  his  bodily  eyes,  not  in  a  dream  pre¬ 
sented  to  his  imagination,  but  in  a  vision,  presented 
to  his  sight ;  for  his  greater  satisfaction,  it  carried 
its  own  evidence  along  with  it.  (3.)  That  he  called 
him  by  his  name,  Cornelius,  to  intimate  the  particu¬ 
lar  notice  God  took  of  him.  (4.)  That  this  put  Cor¬ 
nelius  for  the  present  into  some  confusion;  {y.  4.) 
When  he  looked  on  him,  he  was  afraid ;  the  wisest 
and  best  men  have  been  struck  with  fear  upon  the 
appearance  of  any  extraordinary  messenger  from 
heaven  ;  and  justly,  for  sinful  man  knows  he  has  no 
reason  to  expect  any  good  tidings  from  thence.  And 
therefore  Cornelius  cries,  “  What  is  it,  Lord?  What 
is  the  matter  ?”  This  he  speaks  as  one  afraid  of 
something  amiss,  and  longing  to  be  eased  of  that 
fear,  bv  knowing  the  truth  ;  or,  as  one  desirous  to 
know  the  mind  of  God,  and  rdacly  to  comply  with 
it,  as  Joshua  ;  What  saith  my  Lord  unto  his  ser¬ 
vant?  And  Samuel,  Speak,  for  thy  servant  heareth. 

2.  What  the  message  was,  that  was  delivered 
him. 

(1.)  He  is  assured  that  God  accepts  of  him  in 
walking  according  to  the  light  he  had  ;  (y.  4.)  Thy 
prayers  and  thine  alms  are  come  up  for  a  memorial 
before  God.  Observe,  Prayers  and  alms  must  go 
together.  We  must  follow  our  prayers  with  alms  ; 
for  the  fast  that  God  hath  chosen,  is  to  draw  out  the 
soul  to  the  hungry,  Isa.  58.  6,  7.  It  is  not  enough 
to  prav  that  what  we  have  may  be  sanctified  to  us, 
but  we  must  give  alms  of  such  things  as  we  have  ; 
and  then,  behold,  all  things  are  clean  to  us,  Luke  11. 
41.  And  we  must  follow  our  alms  with  our  prayers 
that  God  would  graciously  accept  them,  and  that 
they  may  be  blessed  to  those  to  whom  they  are 
given.  Cornelius  prayed,  and  gave  alms,  not  as  the 
Pharisees,  to  be  sent  rf  men,  but  in  sincerity,  ns  unto 
God  ;  and  he  is  here  told,  that  they  were  come  up 


0 


THE  ACTS,  X. 


for  a  memona .  before  God ;  they  were  upon  record 
m  beaven,  in  the  book  of  remembrance  that  is  writ¬ 
ten  there  for  all  that  fear  God,  and  shall  be  remem- 
beied  to  his  advantage  ;  “  Thy  prayers  shall  be  an¬ 
swered,  and  thine  alms  recompensed.”  The  sacri¬ 
fices  under  the  law  are  said  to  be  for  a  memorial. 
See  Lev.  2.  9,  16. — 5.  12. — 6.  15.  And  prayers  and 
alms  are  our  spiritual  offerings,  which  God  is  pleased 
to  take  cognizance  of,  and  have  regard  to.  The  di¬ 
vine  revelation  communicated  to  the  Jews,  as  far  as 
the  Gentiles  were  concerned  in  it,  not  only  as  it  di¬ 
rected  and  improved  the  light  and  law  of  nature, 
but  as  it  promised  a  Messiah  to  come,  Cornelius  be¬ 
lieved  and  submitted  to  ;  what  he  did  he  did  in  that 
faith,  and  was  accepted  of  God  in  it ;  for  the  Gen¬ 
tiles,  to  whom  the  law  of  Moses  came,  were  not 
obliged  to  become  circumcised  Jews,  as  those  to 
whom  the  gospel  of  Christ  comes,  are  to  become 
baptized  Christians. 

(2.)  He  is  appointed  to  inquire  after  a  further  dis¬ 
covery  of  divine  grace,  now  lately  made  to,  the 
world,  v.  5,  6.  He  must  send  forthwith  to  Jofi/ia, 
-  and  inquire  for  one  Simon  Peter  ;  he  lodgeth  at  the 
house  of  one  Simon  a  tanner ;  his  house  is  by  the  sea¬ 
side,  and  if  he  be  sent  for,  he  will  come  ;  and  whe?i 
he  comes ,  he  shall  tell  thee  what  thou  o  ugh  test  to  do, 
in  answer  to  thy  question,  What  is  it,  Lord?  Now 
here  are  two  things  very  surprising,  and  worthy  our 
consideration. 

[1.  ]  Cornelius  prays  and  gives  alms  in  the  fear  of 
God  ;  is  religious  himself,  and  keeps  up  religion  in 
his  family,  and  all  this  so  as  to  be  accepted  of  God 
in  it ;  and  yet  there  is  something  further,  that  he 
ought  to  do  ;  he  ought  to  embrace  the  Christian  re¬ 
ligion,  now  that  God  has  established  it  among  men. 
Not,  He  may  do  it  if  he  pleases,  it  will  be  an  im¬ 
provement  and  entertainment  to  him  ;  but,  He  must 
do  it,  it  is  indispensably  necessary  to  his  acceptance 
with  God  for  the  future,  though  he  has  been  ac¬ 
cepted  in  his  services  hitherto.  He  that  believed 
the  promise  of  the  Messiah,  must  now  believe  the 
performance  of  that  promise.  Now  that  God  had 
given  a  further  record  concerning  his  Son  than  what 
had  been  given  in  the  Old  Testament  prophecies, 
he  requires  that  we  receive  that  when  it  is  brought 
to  us.  And  now  neither  our  prayers  nor  our  alms 
come  u/i  for  a  memorial  before  God  unless  we  be¬ 
lieve  in  Jesus  Christ ;  for  it  is  that  further  which  we 
ought  to  do.  This  is  his  commandment,  that  we  be-\ 
lieve ;  prayers  and  alms  are  accepted  from  those 
that  believe  that  the  Lord  is  God,  and  have  not  op¬ 
portunity  of  knowing  more.  But  from  those  to  whom 
it  is  preached,  that  Jesus  is  Christ,  it  is  necessary  to 
the  acceptance  of  their  persons,  prayers,  and  alms, 
that  they  believe  that,  and  rest  upon  him  alone  for 
acceptance. 

[2.]  Cornelius  has  now  an  angel  from  heaven 
talking  to  him,  and  yet  he  must  not  receive  the  gos¬ 
pel  of  Christ  from  this  angel,  nor  be  told  by  him 
what  he  ought  to  do,  but  all  that  the  angel  has  to 
say,  is,  “Send  for  Peter,  and  he  shall  tell  thee.”  As 
the  former  observation  puts  a  mighty  honour  upon 
the  gospel,  so  does  this  upon  the  gospel-ministry  :  it 
was  not  to  the  highest  of  angels,  but  to  them  who 
were  less  than  the  least  of  all  saints,  that  this  grace 
was  given,  to  preach  among  the  Gentiles  the  un¬ 
searchable  riches  of  Christ,  (Eph.  3.  8.)  that  the  ex¬ 
cellency  of  the  power  might  be  of  God,  and  the  dig¬ 
nity  of  an  institution  of  Christ  supported  ;  for  unto 
the  angels  hath  he  not  put  in  subjection  the  world  to 
come ,  (Heb.  2.  5.)  but  to  the  Son  of  man  as  the  So¬ 
vereign,  and  the  sons  of  men  as  his  agents  and  minis¬ 
ters  of  state,  whose  terror  shall  not  make  us  afraid, 
?ior  their  hand  be  heavy  upon  us,  as  this  angel’s  now 
was  to  Cornelius.  And  as  it  was  an  honour  to  the 
apostle,  that  he  must  preach  that  which  an  angel 
might  not,  so  it  was  a  further  honour,  that  an  angel 


was  dispatched  on  purpose  from  heaven  to  order 
him  to  be  sent  for.  To  bring  a  faithful  minister  and 
a  willing  people  together,  is  a  work  worthy  of  an 
angel,  and  what  therefore  the  greatest  of  men  should 
be  glad  to  be  employed  in. 

III.  His  immediate  obedience  to  these  orders,  v. 
7,  8.  He  sent  with  all  speed  to  Joppa,  to  fetch  Pe 
ter  to  him.  Had  he  himself  only  been  concerned, 
he  would  have  gone  to  Joppa  to  him.  But  he  had  a 
family,  and  kinsmen,  and  friends,  ( v .  24.)  a  little 
congregation  of  them,  that  could  not  go  with  him  to 
Joppa,  and  therefore  he  sends  for  Peter.  Observe, 

1.  When  he  sent  ;  as  soon  as  ever  the  angel  which 
spake  unto  him,  was  departed.  Without  dispute  or 
delay  he  was  obedient  to  the  heavenly  vision.  He 
perceived,  by  what  the  angel  said,  he  was  to  have 
some  further  work  prescribed  him,  and  he  longed 
to  have  it  told  him.  He  made  haste,  and  delayed 
not,  to  do  this  commandment.  In  anv  affair  where¬ 
in  our  souls  are  concerned,  it  is  goed  for  us  not  to 
lose  time. 

2.  Whom  he  sent  ;  two  of  his  household  scri'ants, 
who  all  feared  God,  and  a  devout  sold  er,  cne  of  them 
that  waited  on  him  continually.  Observe,  A  devout 
centurion  had  devout  soldiers';  a  little  devotion  ccm- 
monly  goes  a  great  way  with  soldiers,  but  there 
would  be  more  of  it  in  the  soldiers,  if  there  were  but 
more  of  it  in  the  commanders.  Officers  in  an  army, 
that  have  such  a  great  power  over  the  soldiers,  as 
we  find  the  centurion  had,  (Matt.  8.  9. )  have  a  great 
opportunity  of  promoting  religion,  at  least  of  re¬ 
straining  vice  and  profaneness,  in  those  under  their 
command,  if  they  would  but  improve  it.  Observe, 
When  this  centurion  was  to  choose  some  of  his  sol¬ 
diers  to  attend  his  person,  and  to  be  always  about 
him,  he  pitched  upon  such  of  them  as  were  devout ; 
they  shall  be  preferred  and  countenanced,  to  encou¬ 
rage  others  to  be  so  ;  he  went  by  David’s  rule,  (Ps. 
101.  6.)  Mine  eye  shall  be  upon  the  faithful  in  the 
land,  that  they  may  dwell  with  me. 

3.  What  instructions  he  gave  them  ;  ( v .  S.)  he  de¬ 
clared  all  these  things  unto-  them,  told  them  of  the 
vision  he  had,  and  the  orders  given  him  to  send  for 
Peter,  because  Peter’s  coming  was  a  thing  in  which 
they  were  concerned,  for  they  had  souls  to  save  as 
well  as  he.  Therefore  he  does  not  only  tell  them 
where  to  find  Peter,  (which  he  might  have  thought 
it  enough  to  do,  the  servant  knows  not  what  his  Lord 
doetli ,)  but  he  tells  them  on  what  errand  he  was  to 
come,  that  they  might  importune  him. 

9.  On  the  morrow,  as  they  went  on  their 
journey,  and  drew  nigh  unto  the  city,  Peter 
went  up  upon  the  house-top  to  pray  about 
the  sixth  hour  :  10.  And  he  became  very 

hungry,  and  would  have  eaten  :  but  while 
they  made  ready,  he  fell  into  a  trance,  1 1. 
And  saw  heaven  opened,  and  a  certain  ves¬ 
sel  descending  unto  him,  as  it  had  been  a 
great  sheet  knit  at  the  four  corners,  and  let 
down  to  the  earth :  12.  Wherein  were  all 
manner  of  four-footed  beasts  of  the  earth, 
and  wild  beasts,  and  creeping  things,  and 
fowls  of  the  air.  13.  And  there  came  a 
voice  to  him,  Rise,  Peter;  kill,  and  eat. 
14.  But  Peter  said,  Not  so,  Lord;  for  I 
have  never  eaten  any  thing  that  is  com¬ 
mon  or  unclean.  15.  And  the  voice  spake 
unto  him  again  the  second  time,  What 
God  hath  cleansed,  that  call  not  thou  com¬ 
mon.  1 6.  This  was  done  thrice  :  and  the 


102 


THE  ACTS,  X.. 


vessel  was  received  up  again  into  heaven. 

17.  Now  while  Peter  doubted  in  himself 
what  this  vision  which  he  had  seen  should 
mean,  behold,  the  men  which  were  sent 
from  Cornelius  had  made  inquiry  for  Si¬ 
mon’s  house,  and  stood  before  the  gate, 

18.  And  called,  and  asked  whether  Simon, 
which  was  surnamed  Peter,  were  lodged 
there. 

Cornelius  had  received  positive  orders  from  hea¬ 
ven  to  send  for  Peter,  whom  otherwise  he  had  not 
heard  of,  or  at  least  not  heeded  ;  but  here  is  another 
difficulty  that  lies  in  the  way  of  bringing  them  to¬ 
gether — the  question  is,  whether  Peter  will  come  to 
Cornelius  when  he  is  sent  for ;  not  as  if  he  thinks  it 
below  him  to  come  at  a  beck,  or  as  if  he  is  afraid  to 

reach  his  doctrine  to  a  polite  man  as  Cornelius  was: 

ut  it  sticks  at  a  point  of  conscience.  Cornelius  is  a 
very  worthy  man,  and  has  many  good  qualities,  but 
he  is  a  Gentile,  he  is  not  circumcised  ;  and  because 
God  in  his  law  had  forbidden  his  people  to  associate 
with  idolatrous  nations,  they  would  not  keep  com¬ 
pany  with  any  but  those  of  their  own  religion,  though 
they  were  ever  so  deserving  ;  and  they  carried  the 
matter  so  far,  that  they  made  even  the  involuntary 
touch  of  a  Gentile  to  contract  a  ceremonial  pollu¬ 
tion,  John  18.  28.  Peter  had  not  got  over  this  stin¬ 
gy  bigoted  notion  of  his  countrymen,  and  therefore 
will  be  shy  of  coming  to  Cornelius.  Now,  to  re¬ 
move  this  difficulty  he  has  a  vision  here,  to  prepare 
him  to  receive  the  message  sent  him  by  Cornelius, 
as  Ananias  had  to  prepare  him  to  go  to  Paul.  The 
scriptures  of  the  Old  Testament  had  spoken  plainly 
of  the  bringing  in  of  the  Gentiles  into  the  church  ; 
Christ  had  given  plain  intimations  of  it,  when  he  or¬ 
dered  them  to  teach  all  nations  ;  and  yet  even  Peter 
himself,  who  knew  so  much  of  his  Master’s  mind, 
cannot  understand  it,  till  it  was  here  revealed  by 
vision,  that  the  Gentiles  should  he  fellow  heirs ,  Eph.  3. 
6.  Now  here  observe, 

I.  The  circumstances  of  this  vision. 

1.  It  was  when  the  messengers  sent  from  Corne¬ 
lius  were  now  nigh  the  city,  v.  9.  Peter  knew  nothing 
of  their  approach,  and  they  knew  nothing  of  his 
praying  ;  but  he  that  knew  both  him  and  them,  was 
preparing  things  for  the  interview,  and  facilitating 
the  end  of  their  negotiation.  To  all  God’s  purposes 
there  is  a  time,  a  proper  time  ;  and  he  is  pleased 
often  to  bring  things  to  the  minds  of  his  ministers, 
which  they  had  not  thought  of,  just  then  when  they 
have  occasion  to  use  them. 

2.  It  was  when  Peter  went  up.  upon  the  house-top 
to  pray,  about  noon.  (1.)  Peter  was  much  in  prayer, 
much  in  secret  prayer,  though  he  had  a  great  deal 
of  public  work  upon  his  hands.  (2.)  He  prayed 
about  the  sixth  hour,  according  to  David’s  example, 
who,  not  only  morning  and  evening,  but  at  noon, 
addressed  himself  to  God  by  prayer,  Ps.  55.  17. 
From  morning  to  night  we  should  think  to  be  too 
long  to  be  without  meat  ;  yet  who  thinks  it  is  too 
long  to  be  without  prayer  ?  (3. )  He  prayed  upon  the 
house-top  ;  thither  he  retired  for  privacy,  where  he 
could  neither  hear  nor  be  heard,  and  so  might  avoid 
both  distraction  and  ostentation.  There,  upon  the 
roof  of  the  house,  he  had  a  full  view  of  the  heavens, 
which  might  assist  his  pious  adoration' of  the  God  he 
prayed  to  ;  and  there  he  had  also  a  full  view  of  the 
city  and  country,  which  might  assist  his  pious  com¬ 
passion  of  the  people  he  prayed  for.  (4.)  He  had 
this  vision  immediately  after  he  had  prayed,  as  an 
answer  to  his  prayer  for  the  spreading  of  the  gos¬ 
pel  ;  and  because  the  ascent  of  the  heart  to  God  in 
prayer  is  an  excellent  preparative  to  receive  the  dis¬ 
coveries  of  the  divine  grace  and  favour. 


3.  It  was  when  he  became  very  hungry,  and  was 
waiting  for  his  dinner ;  (n.  10. )  probably,  he  had 
not  eaten  before  that  day,  though  doubtless  he  had 
prayed  before  ;  and  now  he  would  have  eaten,  Z6t\i 
ytva-surhii — he  would  have  tasted,  which  intimates 
his  great  moderation  and  temperance  in  eating ; 
when  he  was  very  hungry,  yet  he  would  be  content 
with  a  little,  with  a  taste,  and  would  not  fly  upon 
the  spoil.  Now  this  hunger  was  a  proper  inlet  to 
the  vision  about  meats,  as  Christ’s  hunger  in  the 
wilderness  was  to  Satan’s  temptation  to  turn  stones 
into  bread. 

II.  The  vision  itself,  which  was  not  so  plain  as  that 
to  Cornelius,  but  more  figurative  and  enigmatical, 
to  make  the  deeper  impression. 

1.  He  fell  into  a  trance  or  ecstasy,  not  of  terror, 
but  of  contemplation,  with  which  he  was  so  entirely 
swallowed  up  as  not  only  not  to  be  regardful,  but  not 
to  be  sensible,,  of  external  things  ;  he  quite  lost  him¬ 
self  to  this  world,  and  so- had  his  mind  entirely  free 
for  converse  with  divine  things  ;  as  Adam  in  inno- 
cency,  when  the  deep  sleep  fell  upon  him.  The 
more  clear  we  get  of  the  world,  the  more  near  we 
get  to  heaven  :  whether  Peter  was  now  in  the  body 
or  out  of  the  body,  he  could  not  himself  tell,  much 
less  can  we,  2  Cor.  12.  2,  3.  See  Gen.  15.  12.  Acts 
22.  17. 

2.  He  saw  heaven  opened  ;  that  he  might  be  sure 
that  his  authority  to  go  to  Cornelius  was  indeed  from 
heaven  ;  that  it  was  a  divine  light  which  altered  his 
sentiments,  and  a  divine  power  which  gave  him  his 
commission.  The  opening  of  the  heavens  signified 
the  opening  of  a  mystery  that  had  been  hid,  Rom. 
16.  25. 

3.  He  saw  a  great  sheet  full  of  all  manner  of  liv¬ 
ing  creatures,  which  descended  from  heaven,  and 
was  let  down  to  him,  to  the  earth,  that  is,  to  the  roof 
of  the  house  where  he  now  was.  Here  were  not 
only  beasts  of  the  earth,  but  fowls  ol  the  air,  which 
might  have  flown  away,  laid  at  his  feet ;  and  not  only 
tame  beasts,  but  wild.  Here  were  no  fishes  of  the 
sea,  because  there  were  none  of  them  in  particular 
unclean,  but  whatever  had  fins  and  scales  were  al- 
lov’ed  to  be  eaten.  Some  make  this  sheet,  thus 
filled,  to  represent  the  church  of  Christ.  It  comes 
down  from  heaven,  from  heaven  opened,  not  only  to 
send  it  down,  (Rev.  21.  2.)  but  to  receive  souls  sent 
up  from  it ;  it  is  knit  at  the  four  corners,  to  receive 
those  from  all  parts  of  the  world,  that  are  willing  to 
be  added  to  it ;  and  to  retain  and  keep  those  safe, 
that  are  taken  into  it,  that  they  may  not  fall  cut ; 
and  in  this  we  find  some  of  ali  countries,  nations, 
and  languages,  without  any  distinction  of  Greek  or 
Jew,  or  any  disadvantage  put  upon  Barbarian  or 
Scythian,  Col.  3.  11.  The  net  of  the  gospel  incloses 
all,  both  bad  and  good  ;  thc.se  that  before  were 
clean,  and  unclean.  Or,  it  may  be  applied  to  the 
bounty  of  the  Divine  Providence,  which,  antece¬ 
dently  to  the  prohibitions  of  the  ceremonial  law, 
had  given  to  man  a  liberty  to  use  all  the  creatures, 
to  which  bv  the  cancelling  of  that  law  we  are  now 
restored.  By  this  vision  we  are  taught  to  see  all  the 
benefit  and  service  we  have  from  the  inferior  crea 
tures  coming  down  to  us  from  heaven  ;  it  is  the  gift 
of  God  who  made  them,  made  them  fit  for  us,  and 
then  gave  to  man  a  right  to  them,  and  dominion  over 
them.  Lord,  what  is  man  that  he  should  be  thus 
magnified  !  Ps.  8.  4 — 8.  How  should  it  double  our 
comfort  in  the  creatures,  and  our  obligations  to  serve 
God  in  the  use  of  them,  to  see  them  thus  let  down 
to  us  out  of  heaven  ! 

4.  Peter  was  ordered  by  a  voice  from  heaven  to 
make  use  of  this  pleptv  and  variety  which  God 
had  sent  him  ;  (v.  13.)  “  Pise ,  Peter,  kill,  and  eat ; 
without  putting  any  difference  between  clean  and 
unclean,  take  which  thou  hast  most  mind  to.”  The 
distinction  of  meats  which  the  law  made,  was  in 


103 


THE  ACTS,  X. 


tended  to  put  a  difference  between  Jew  and  Gentile, 
that  it  might  be  difficult  to  them  to  dine  and  sup 
with  a  Gentile,  because  they  would  have  that  set 
before  them,  which  they  were  not  allowed  to  eat ; 
and  now  the  taking  off  of  that  prohibition  was  a 
plain  allowance  to  converse  with  the  Gentiles,  and 
to  be  free  and  familiar  with  them  ;  now  th?y  might 
fare  as  they  fared,  and  therefore  might  cat  with 
them,  and  be  fellow-commoners  with  them. 

5.  Peter  stuck  to  his  principles,  and  would  by  no 
means  hearken  to  the  motion,  though  he  was  hun¬ 
gry  ;  {y.  14 .)  JVot  so,  Lord.  Though  hunger  will 
break  through  stone-walls,  God’s  laws  should  be  to 
us  a  stronger  fence  than  stone- walls,  and  not  so  easily 
broken  through.  And  he  will  adhere  to  God’s  laws, 
though  he  had  a  countermand  by  a  voice  from  hea- 
\  en,  not  knowing  at  first  but  that  Kill,  and  eat,  was 
a  command  of  trial  whether  he  would  adhere  to 
,tne  more  sure  word,  the  written  law  ;  and  if  so  his 
answer  had  been  very  good,  Not  so,  Lord.  Temp¬ 
tations  to  eat  forbidden  fruit  must  not  be  parleyed 
with,  but  peremptorily  rejected  ;  we  must  startle  at 
the  thought  of  it.  Not  so,  Lord.  The  reason  he 
gives,  is,  “  For  I  have  never  eaten  any  thing  that 
is  common  or  unclean  ;  hitherto  I  have  kept  my  in¬ 
tegrity  in  tais  matter,  and  will  still  keep  it.”  If  God, 
by  his  grace,  has  preserved  us  from  gross  sin  unto 
this  day,  we  should  use  that  as  an  argument  with 
ourselves  to  abstain  from  all  appearance  of  evil. 
So  strict  were  the  pious  Jews  in  this  matter,  that 
the  seven  brethren,  those  glorious  martyrs  under 
Antiochus,  chose  rather  to  be  tortured  to  death  in 
the  most  cruel  manner  that  ever  was,  than  to  eat 
swine’s  flesh,  because  it  was  forbidden  by  the  law. 
No  wonder  then  that  Peter  says  it  with  so  much 
pleasure,  that  his  conscience  could  witness  for  him, 
that  he  had  never  gratified  his  appetite  with  any 
forbidden  food. 

6.  God,  by  a  second  voice  from  heaven,  pro¬ 
claimed  the  repeal  of  the  law  in  this  case ;  (v.  16.) 
What  God  hath  cleansed,  that  call  not  thou  com¬ 
mon.  He  that  made  the  law,  might  alter  it  when 
he  pleased,  and  reduce  the  matter  to  its  first  state. 
God  had,  for  reasons  suited  to  the  Old  Testament 
dispensation,  restrained  the  Jews  from  eating  such 
and  such  meats,  which,  while  that  dispensation 
lasted,  they  were  obliged  in  conscience  to  submit 
to  ;  but  he  has  now,  for  reasons  suited  to  the  New 
Testament  dispensation,  taken  off  that  restraint, 
and  set  the  matter  at  large,  has  cleansed  that  which 
was  before  polluted  to  us,  and  we  ought  to  make  use 
of,  and  stand  fast  in,  the  liberty  wherewith  Christ 
has  made  us  free,  and  not  call  that  common  or  un¬ 
clean,  which'God  has  now  declared  clean.  Note, 
We  ought  to  welcome  it  as  a  great  mercy,  that  by 
the.  gospel  of  Christ  we  are  freed  from  the  distinc¬ 
tion  of  meats,  which  was  made  by  the  law  of  Moses, 
and  that  now  every  creature  of  God  is  good,  and 
nothing  to  be  refused ;  not  so  much  because  hereby 
we  gain  the  use  of  swine’s  flesh,  hares,  rabbits,  and 
other  pleasant  and  wholesome  food  for  our  bodies, 
but  chiefly  because  conscience  is  hereby  freed  from 
a  yoke  in  things  of  this  nature,  that  we  might  serve 
God  without  fear.  Though  the  gospel  has  made 
duties  which  were  not  so  bv  the  law  of  nature,  yet 
it  has  not,  like  the  law  of  Moses,  made  sins  that 
were  not  so.  Those  who  command  to  abstain  from 
some  kinds  of  meat,  at  some  times  of  the  year,  and 
place  religion  in  it,  call  that  common  which  God 
hath  cleansed,  and,  in  that  error,  more  than  in  any 
truth,  are  the  successors  of  Peter. 

7.  This  was  done  thrice,  v.  16.  The  sheet  was 
drawn  up  a  little  way,  and  let  down  again  the  se¬ 
cond  time,  and  so  the  third  time,  with  the  same  call 
to  him,  to  kill,  and  eat,  and  the  same  reason,  that 
what  God  hath  cleansed,  we  must  not  call  common ; 
but,  whether  Peter’s  refusal  was  repeated  the  se¬ 


cond  and  third  time,  is  not  certain ;  surely  it  was 
not,  when  his  objection  had  the  first  time  received 
such  a  satisfactory  answer.  The  doubling  of  Pha 
raoh’s  dream,  and  so  the  trebling  of  Peter’s  vision, 
were  to  shew  that  the  thing  was  certain,  and  engage 
him  to  take  so  much  the  more  notice  of  it.  The  in¬ 
structions  given  us  in  the  things  of  God,  whether  by 
the  ear  in  the  preaching  of  the  word,  or  by  the  eye 
in  sacraments,  need  to  be  often  repeated;  precept 
must  be  upon  precept,  and  line  upon  line.  But  at 
last  the  vessel  was  received  up  into  heaven.  Those 
who  make  this  vessel  to  represent  the  church,  in¬ 
cluding  both  Jews  and  Gentiles,  as  this  did  both 
clean  and  unclean  creatures,  make  this  very  aptly 
to  signify  the  admission  of  the  believing  Gentiles 
into  the  church,  and  into  heaven  too,  into  the  Jeru¬ 
salem  above.  Christ  has  opened  the  kingdom  of 
heaven  to  all  beliex>ers,  and  there  we  shall  find,  be¬ 
side  those  that  are  sealed  out  of  all  the  tribes  of  Is¬ 
rael,  an  innumerable  company  out  of  every  nation  ; 
(Rev.  7.  9.)  but  they  are  such  as  God  has  cleansed. 

III.  The  providence  which  very  opportunely  ex¬ 
plained  this  vision,  and  gave  Peter  to  understand  the 
intention  of  it,  v.  17,  18. 

1.  What  Christ  did,  Peter  knew  not  just  then ; 
(John  13.  7. )  he  doubted  within  himself  what  this  vi¬ 
sion  which  he  had  seen  should  mean  ;  lie  had  no  rea¬ 
son  to  doubt  the  truth  of  it,  that  it  was  a  heavenly 
vision,  all  his  doubt  was  concerning  the  meaning  of 
it.  Note,  Christ  reveals  himself  to  his  people  by 
degrees,  and  not  all  at  once ;  and  leaves  them  to 
doubt  a  while,  to  ruminate  upon  a  thing,  and  debate 
it  to  and  fro  in  their  own  minds,  before  he  clears  it 
up  to  them. 

2.  Yet  he  was  made  to  know  presently,  for  the 
men  which  were  sent  from  Cornelius  were  just  now 
come  to  the  house,  and  were  at  the  gate  inquiring 
whether  Peter  lodged  there  ;  and  by  their  errand  it 
will  appear  what  was  the  meaning  of  this  vision. 
Note,  God  knows  what  services'  are  before  us,  and 
therefore  how  to  prepare  us ;  and  we  then  better 
know  the  meaning  of  what  he- has  taught  us,  when 
we  find  what  occasion  we  have  to  make  use  of  it. 

19.  While  Peter  thought  on  the  vision, 
the  Spirit  said  unto  him,  Behold,  three  men 
seek  thee.  20.  Arise  therefore,  and  get 
thee  down,  and  go  with  them,  doubting 
nothing:  for  I  have  sent  them.  21.  Then 
Peter  went  down  to  the  men  which  were 
sent  unto  him  from  Cornelius;  and  said, 
Behold,  I  am  he  whom  ye  seek:  what  is 
the  cause  wherefore  ye  are  come?  22. 
And  they  said,  Cornelius  the  centurion,  a 
just  man,  and  one  that  feareth  God,  and 
of  good  report  among  all  the  nation  ol  the 
Jews,  was  warned  from  God  by  an  holy 
angel  to  send  fot  thee  into  his  house,  and 
to  hear  words  of  thee.  23.  Then  called 
he  them  in,  and  lodged  them.  And  on  the 
morrow  Peter  went  away  with  them,  and 
certain  brethren  from  Joppa  accompanied 
him.  24.  And  the  morrow  after  they  en¬ 
tered  into  Cesarea  :  and  Cornelius  waited 
for  them,  and  had  called  together  his  kins¬ 
men  and  near  friends.  25.  And  as  Peter 
was  coming  in,  Cornelius  met  him,  and  fell 
down  at  his  feet,  and  worshipped  him.  26. 
But  Peter  took  him  up,  saying,  Stand  up ; 
I  myself  also  am  a  man.  27.  And  as  he 


THE  ACTS,  X. 


I  v>4 

talked  with  him,  he  went  in,  and  found  j 
many  that  were  come  together.  28.  And 
he  said  unto  them,  Ye  know  how  that  it  is 
an  unlawful  thing  for  a  man  that  is  a  Jew 
to  keep  company,  or  come  unto  one  of 
another  nation ;  but  God  hath  shewed  me 
that  I  should  not  call  any  man  common  or 
unclean.  29.  Therefore  came  I  unto  you 
without  gainsaying,  as  soon  as  I  was  sent 
for :  I  ask  therefore  for  what  intent  ye  have 
sent  for  me  ?  30.  And  Cornelius  said,  Four 
days  ago  I  was  fasting  until  this  hour ;  and 
at  the  ninth  hour  I  prayed  in  my  house, 
and,  behold,  a  man  stood  before  me  in 
bright  clothing,  31.  And  said,  Cornelius, 
thy  prayer  is  heard,  and  thine  alms  are  had 
in  remembrance  in  the  sight  of  God.  32. 
Send  therefore  to  Joppa,  and  call  hither 
Simon,  whose  surname  is  Peter ;  he  is 
lodged  in  the  house  of  one  Simon  a  tanner 
by  the  sea-side :  who,  when  he  cometh, 
shall  speak  unto  thee.  33.  Immediately 
therefore  I  sent  to  thee ;  and  thou  hast 
well  done  that  thou  art  come.  Now  there¬ 
fore  are  we  all  here  present  before  God, 
to  hear  all  things  that  are  commanded 
thee  of  God. 

We  have  here  the  meeting  between  Peter  the 
apostle,  and  Cornelius  the  centurion.  Though  Paul 
was  designed  to  be  the  apostle  of  the  Gentiles,  and 
to  gather  in  the  harvest  among  them,  and  Peter  to 
be  the  afiostle  of  the  circumcision,  yet  it  is  ordered 
.that  Peter  shall  break  the  ice,  and  reap  the  first- 
fruits  of  the  Gentiles,  that  the  believing  Jews,  who  1 
retained  too  much  of  the  old  leaven  of  ill-will  to  the 
Gentiles,  might  be  the  better  reconciled  to  their  ad¬ 
mission  into  the  church,  when  they  were  first  brought 
in  by  their  own  apostle,  which  Peter  urgeth  against 
those  that  would  have  imposed  circumcision  upon 
the  Gentile  converts,  ch.  15.  7.  Ye  know  that  God  ! 
made  choice  among  us,  that  the  Gentiles  by  my 
mouth  should  hear  the  word  of  the  gospel.  Now 
here, 

I.  Peter  is  directed  by  the  Spirit  to  go  along  with 
Cornelius’s  messengers,  ( v .  19,  20.)  and  this  is  the 
exposition  of  the  vision ;  now  the  riddle  is  unriddled. 
While  Peter  thought  on  the  vision  ;  he  was  musing 
upon  it,  and  then  it  was  opened  to  him.  Note,  Those 
that  would  be  taught  the  things  of  God,  must  think 
on  those  things ;  those  that  would  understand  the 
scriptures,  must  meditate  in  them  day  and  night. 
He  was  at  a  loss  about  it,  and  then  had  it  ex¬ 
plained  ;  which  encourages  us,  when  we  know  not 
what  to  do,  to  have  our  eyes  up  unto  God  for  direc¬ 
tion.  Observe, 

1.  Whence  he  had  the  direction.  The  Spirit 
said^to  him  what  he  should  do.  It  was  not  spoken 
to  him  by  an  angel,  but  spoken  in  him  by  the  Spirit, 
secretly  whispering  it  in  his  ear  as  it  were,  as  God 
spake  to  Samuel,  (1  Sam.  9.  15.)  or  impressing  it 
powerfully  upon  his  mind,  so  that  he  knew  it  to  be 
a  divine  afflatus  or  inspiration,  according  to  the  pro¬ 
mise,  John  16.  13. 

2.  What  the  direction  was.  (1.)  He  is  told,  be¬ 
fore  any  of  the  servants  could  come  up  to  tell  him, 
that  three  mm  below  wanted  to  speak  with  him,  ( v . 
19.)  and  he  must  arise  from  his  musings,  leave  off 
thinking  of  the  vision,  and  go  down  to  them,  v.  20. 
Those  that  are  searching  into  the  meaning  of  the 


j  words  of  God,  and  the  visions  of  the  Almighty,  snould 
j  not  be  always  poring,  no,  nor  always  praying,  but 
should  sometimes  look  abroad,  look  about  them,  and 
they  may  meet  with  that  which  will  be  of  use  to  them 
in  their  inquiries ;  for  the  scripture  is  in  the  fulfilling 
every  day. 

(2.)  He  is  ordered  to  go  along  with  the  messengers 
to  Cornelius,  though  he  was  a  Gentile,  doubting 
nothing.  He  must  not  only  go,  but  go  cheerfully, 
without  reluctancy  or  hesitation,  or  any  scruple  con¬ 
cerning  the  lawfulness  of  it ;  not  doubting  whether 
he  might  go,  no,  nor  whether  he  ought  to  go ;  for  it 
was  his  duty  ;  “  Go  with  them,  for  I  have  sent  them  ; 
and  I  will  bear  thee  out  in  going  along  with  them, 
however  thou  mayest  be  censured  for  it.”  Note, 
When  we  see  our  call  clear  to  any  service,  we  should 
not  suffer  ourselves  to  be  perplexed  with  doubts  and 
scruples  concerning  it,  arising  from  former  preju¬ 
dices  or  prepossessions,  or  a  fear  of  men’s  censure. 
Let  every  man  be  fully  persuaded  in  his  own  mind, 
and  prove  his  own  work. 

II.  He  receives  both  them  and  their  message  ;  he 
went  down  to  them,  v.  21.  So  far  was  he  from  go¬ 
ing  out  of  the  way,  or  refusing  to  be  spoken  with,  as 
one  that  was  shy  of  them,  or  making  them  tarry,  as 
one  that  took  state  upon  him,  that  he  went  to  them 
himself,  told  them  he  was  the  person  they  were  in¬ 
quiring  for !  And, 

1.  He  favourably  receives  their  message ;  with 

abundance  of  openness  and  condescension  he  asks, 
what  their  business  is,  what  they  have  to  say  to  him, 
What  is  the  cause  wherefore  ije  are  come?  and  they 
tell  him  their  errand  ;  (v.  22.)  “  Cornelius,  an  offi¬ 
cer  of  the  Roman  army,  a  very  honest  gentleman, 
and  one  who  has  more  religion  than  most  of  his 
neighbours,  who  fears  God  above  many,  (Neh.  7. 
2.)  who,  though  he  is  not  a  Jew  himself,  has  carried 
it  so  well,  that  he  is  of  good  report  among  all  the 
people  of  the  Jews,  they  will  all  give  him  a  good 
word,  for  a  conscientious,  sober,  charitable  man,  so 
that  it  will  be  no  discredit  to  thee  to'be  seen  in  his 
company  ;  he  was  warned  from  God,”  — 

“  he  had  an  oracle  from  God,  sent  him  by  an  angel,” 
(and  the  lively  oracles  of  the  lava  of  Moses  were  given 
by  the  disposition  of  angels,)  “by  which  he  was  or¬ 
dered  to  send  for  thee  to  his  house,  (where  he  is  ex¬ 
pecting  thee,  and  ready  to  bid  thee  welcome,)  and 
to  hear  words  of  thee :  they  know  not  what  words, 
but  they  are  such  as  he  may  hear  from  thee,  and  not 
from  any  one  else  so  well.  ”  Faith  comes  by  heai  mg. 
When  Peter  repeats  this,  he  tells  us  more  fully, 
they  are  words  whereby  thou  and  all  thy  house  shall 
be  saved,  ch.  11.  14.  “Come  to  him,  for  an  angel 
bid  him  send  for  thee  :  come  to  him,  for  he  is  ready 
to  hear  and  receive  the  saving  words  thou  hast  to 
bring  him.” 

2.  He  kindly  entertained  the  messengers ;  ( v .  23.) 
He  called  them  in,  and  lodged  them.  He  did  not  bid 
them  go  and  refresh,  and  repose  themselves  in  an 
inn  at  their  own  charge,  but  was  himself  at  the 
charge  of  entertaining  them  in  his  own  quarters. 
What  was  getting  ready  for  him,  (v.  10.)  they 
should  be  welcome  to  share  in  ;  he  little  thought 
what  company  he  should  have  when  he  bespoke  his 
dinner,  but  God  foresaw  it.  Note,  It  becomes  Chris¬ 
tians  and  ministers  to  be  hospitable,  and  ready,  ac¬ 
cording  as  their  ability  is,  and  there  is  occasion  for 
it,  to  entertain  strangers.  Peter  lodged  them,  though 
they  were  Gentiles,  to  shew  how  readily  he  com¬ 
plied  with  the  design  of  the  vision  in  eating  with 
Gentiles  ;  for  he  immediately  took  them  to  eat  with 
him.  Though  they  were  two  of  them  servants,  and 
the  other  a  common  soldier,  yet  Peter  thought  it  not 
below  him  to  take  them  into  his  house.  Probably, 
he  did  it,  that  he  might  have  some  talk  with  them 
about  Cornelius  and  his  familv ;  for  the  apostles, 
though  they  had  instructions  from  the  Spirit,  yet 


105 


THE  ACTS.  X. 


made  use  of  other  informations,  as  they  had  occasion 
for  them. 

III.  He  went  with  them  to  Cornelius,  whom  he 
found  ready  to  receive  and  entertain  him. 

1.  Peter,  when  he  went  with  them,  was  accom¬ 
panied  by  certain  brethren  from  Joppa ,  where  he 
now  was,  v.  23.  Six  of  them  went  along  with  him, 
as  we  find,  ch.  11.  12.  Either  Peter  desired  their 
company,  that  they  might  be  witnesses  of  his  pro¬ 
ceeding  cautiously  with  reference  to  the  Gentiles, 
and  of  the  good  ground  on  which  he  went,  and  there¬ 
fore  he  vouches  them  ;  (ch.  11.  12.)  or  they  offered 
their  service  to  attend  him,  and  desired  they  might 
have  the  honour  and  happiness  of  being  his  fellow- 
travellers.  This  was  one  way  in  which  the  primi¬ 
tive  Christians  very  much  shewed  their  respect  to 
their  ministers,  they  accompanied  them  in  their 
journeys,  to  keep  them  in  countenance,  to  be  their 
guard,"  and,  as  there  was  occasion,  to  minister  to 
them  ;  with  a  further  prospect  not  only  of  doing  them 
service,  but  of  being  edified  by  their  converse.  It  is 
pity  that  those  who  have  skill  and  will  to  do  good  to 
others  by  their  discourse,  should  want  an  opportunity 
for  it  by  ti-avelling  alone. 

2.  Cornelius,  when  he  was  ready  to  receive  him, 
had  got  some  friends  together  of  Cesarea.  It  seems, 
it  was  above  a  day’s  journey,  near  two,  fi-om  Joppa 
to  Cesarea ;  for  it  was  the  day  after  they  set  out 
that  they  entered  into  Cesarea, -(y.  24.)  and  the  af¬ 
ternoon  of  that  day,  v.  30.  It  is  probaole  that  they 
travelled  on  foot ;  the  apostles  generally  did  so. 
How  when  they  came  into  the  house  of  Cornelius, 
Peter  found,  (1.)  That  he  was  expected,  and  that 
was  an  encouragement  to  him.  Cornelius  waited 
for  them,  and  such  a  guest  was  worth  waiting  for  ; 
nor  can  I  blame  him  if  he  waited  with  some  impa¬ 
tience,  longing  to  know  what  that  mighty  thing  was, 
which  an  angel  bid  him  expect  to  hear  from  Peter. 
(2.)  That  he  was  expected  by  many,  and  that  was 
a  further  encouragement  to  him.  As  Peter  brought 
some  with  him  to  partake  of  the  spiritual  gift  he 
had  now  to  dispense,  so  Cornelius  had  called  toge¬ 
ther,  not  only  his  own  family,  but  his  kinsmen,  and 
near  friends,  to  partake  with  him  of  the  heavenly 
instructions  he  expected  from  Peter,  which  would 
give  Peter  a  larger  opportunity  of  doing  good.  Note, 
We  should  not  covet  to  eat  our  spiritual  morsels 
alone,  Job  31.  17.  It  ought  to  be  both  given  and 
taken  as  a  piece  of  kindness  and  respect  to  our  kin¬ 
dred  and  friends,  to  invite  them  to  join  with  us  in 
religious  exercises,  to  go  with  us  to  hear  a  good 
sermon.  What  Cornelius  ought  to  do,  he  thought 
his  kinsmen  and  friends  ought  to  do  too  ;  and  there¬ 
fore  let  them  come  and  hear  it  at  the  first  hand, 
that  it  maybe  no  surprise  to  them  to  see  him  change 
upon  it. 

IV.  Here  is  the  first  interview  between  Peter  and 
Cornelius  ;  in  which  we  have, 

1.  The  profound,  and  indeed  undue  respect  and 
honour  which  Cornelius  paid  to  Peter  ;  (v.  25.)  He 
met  him  as  he  was  coining  in,  and,  instead  of  taking 
him  in  his  arms,  and  embracing  him  as  a  friend, 
which  would  have  been  very  acceptable  to  Peter, 
he  fell  down  at  his  feet,  and  worshipped  him  ;  some 
think,  as  a  prince  and  a  great  man,  according  to  the 
usage  of  the  eastern  countries  ;  others  think,  as  an 
incarnate  deity,  or  as  if  he  took  him  to  be  the  Mes¬ 
siah  himself.  His  worshipping  a  man  was  indeed 
culpable  ;  but,  considering  his  present  ignorance,  it 
was  excusable,  nay,  and  it  was  an  evidence  of  some¬ 
thing  in  him  that  was  very  commendable — and  that 
was  a  great  veneration  for  divine  and  heavenly 
things  :  no  wonder  if,  till  he  was  better  informed,  he 
took  him  to  be  the  Messiah,  and  therefore  worship¬ 
ped  him,  whom  he  was  ordered  to  send  for  by  an 
angel  from  heaven.  But  the  worshipping  of  his 
pretended  successor,  who  is  not  only  a  man,  but  a 
Vol.  VI. — O 


sinful  man,  the  man  of  sin  himself,  is  altogether  in 
excusable,  and  such  an  absurdity  as  would  be  in 
credible,  if  we  were  not  told  before,  that  all  the 
world  would  worship  the  beast,  Rev.  13.  4. 

2.  Peter’s  modest,  and  indeed  just  and  pious  re¬ 
fusal  of  this  honour  that  was  done  him  ;  ( v .  26.)  He 
took  him  up  into  his  arms,  with  his  own  hands, 
(though  time  was  when  he  little  thought  he  should 
ever  either  receive  so  much  respect  irom,  or  shew 
so  much  affection  to,  an  uncircumcised  Gentile,) 
saying,  “  Stand  up,  I  myself  also  am  a  man,  and 
therefore  not  to  be  worshipped  thus.”  The  good 
angels  of  the  churches,  like  the  good  angels  of  hea¬ 
ven,  cannot .  bear  to  have  the  least  of  that  honour 
shewn  to  them,  which  is  due  to  God  only.  See  thou 
do  it  not,  saith  the  angel  to  John,  (Rev.  19.  10. — 
22.  9.)  and  in  like  manner  the  apostle  to  Cornelius. 
How  careful  was  Paul  that  no  man  should  think  of 
him  above  what  he  saw  in  him  !  2  Cor.  12.  6.  Christ’s 
faithful  servants  could  better  bear  to  be  vilified  than 
to  be  deified.  Peter  did  not  entertain  a  surmise  that 
his  great  respect  for  him,  though  excessive,  might 
contribute  to  the  success  of  his  preaching,  and  there¬ 
fore,  if  he  will  be  deceived  let  him  be  deceived  ;  no, 
let  him  know  that  Peter  is  a  man,  that  the  treasure 
is  in  earthen  vessels,  that  he  may  value  the  treasure 
for  its  own  sake. 

V.  The  account  which  Peter  and  Cornelius  give 
to  each  other,  and  to  the  company,  of  the  hand  of 
Heaven  in'  bringing  them  togethef  ;  As  he  talked 
with  him — <ruvofAi\Zv  &ur^,  he  went  in,  v.  27.  Peter 
went  in,  talking  familiarly  with  Cornelius-;  endea¬ 
vouring,  by  the  freedom  of  his  converse  with  him, 
to  take  off  something  of  that  dread  which  he  seemed 
to  have  of  him  ;  and  when  he  came  in  he  found  many 
that  were  come  together,  more  than  he  expected  ; 
which  added  solemnity,  as  well  as  opportunity  of 
doing  good  to  this  service.  Now, 

1.  Peter  declares  the  direction  God  gave  to  him  to 
come  to  those  Gentiles,  v.  28,  29.  They  knew  it 
had  never  been  allowed  by  the  Jews,  but  always 
looked  upon  as  an  unlawful  thing — <5 (li/uirev — “an 
abomination, "for  a  man  that  is  a  Jew,  a  native  Jew 
as  I  am,  to  keep  company  ;  or  come  unto  one  of  ano¬ 
ther  nation,  a  stranger,  an  uncircumcised  Gentile. 
It  was  not  made  so  by  the  law  of  God,  but  by  the 
decree  of  their  wise  men,  which  they  looked  upon 
to  be  no  less  obliging.  They  did  not  forbid  them  to 
converse  or  traffic  with  Gentiles  in  the  street  or 
shop,  or  upon  the  exchange,  but  to  eat  with  them. 
Even  in  Joseph’s  time,  the  Egyptians  and  Hebrews 
could  not  eat  together,  Gen.  43.  32.  The  three  chil¬ 
dren  would  not  defile  themselves  with  the  king’s  meat, 
Dan.  I.  8.  They  might  not  come  into  the  house  of 
a  Gentile,  for  they  looked  upon  it  to  be  ceremonially 
polluted.  Thus  scornfully  did  the  Jews  look  upon 
the  Gentiles,  who  were  not  behindhand  with  them  in 
contempt,  as  appears  by  many  passages  in  the  Latin 
poets.  “  But  now,”  saith  Peter,  “  God  hath  shewed 
me,  by  a  vision,  that  I  should  not  call  any  man  com¬ 
mon  or  unclean,  nor  refuse  to  converse  with  any 
man  for  the  sake  of  his  country.  ”  Peter,  who  had 
taught  his  new  converts  to  save  themselves  from  ihe 
untoward  generation  of  wicked  men,  ( ch .  2.  40.)  is 
now  himself  taught  tojoin  himself  with  the  towardlv 
generation  of  devout  Gentiles.  Ceremonial  charac¬ 
ters  were  abolished,  that  more  regard  might  be  had 
to  moral  ones.  Peter  thought  it  necessary  to  let 
them  know  how  he  came  to  change  his  mind  in  this 
matter,  and  that  it  was  by  a  divine  revelation,  lest 
he  should  be  upbraided  with  it  as  having  used  light¬ 
ness. 

God  having  thus  taken  down  the  partition-wall, 

(1.)  He  assures  them  of  his  readiness  to  do  them 
all  the  good  offices  he  could  ;  that,  when  he  kept  at 
a  distance,  it  was  not  out  of  any  personal  disgust  to 
them,  but  only  because  he  wanted  leave  from  Hea 


106 


THE  ACTS,  X. 


ven,  which  now  that  ,  he  had  received,  he  was  at 
their  service  ;  “  Therefore  came  I  unto  you  without 
gainsaying,  as  soon  as  I  was  sent  for ;  ready  to 
preach  the  same  gospel  to  yon  that  I  have  preached 
to  the  Jews.”  The  disciples  of  Christ  could  not  but 
have  some  notion  of  the  p reaching  of  the  gospel  to 
the  Gentiles,  but  they  imagined  it  must  be  only  to 
those  Gentiles  that  were  first  proselyted  to  the  Jew¬ 
ish  religion  ;  which  mistake  Peter  acknowledges 
was  now  rectified. 

(2. )  He  inquires  wherein  he  might  be  serviceable 
to  them  ;  “  I  ask  therefore,  for  what  intent  ye  have 
sent  for  me?  What  do  ye  expect  from  me,  or  what 
business  have  ye  with  me  ?”  Note,  Thbse  that  desire 
the  help  of  God’s  ministers,  ought  to  look  well  to  it 
that  they  propose  right  ends  to  themselves  in  it,  and 
do  it  with  a  good  intent. 

2.  Cornelius  declares  the  directions  God  gave  to 
him  to  send  for  Peter,  and  that  it  was  pui-ely  in  obe¬ 
dience  to  those  directions  that  he  had  sent,  for  him. 
Then  we  are  right  in  our  aims  in  sending  for,  and 
attending  on  a  gospel-ministry,  when  we  do  if  with 
a  regard  to  the  divine  appointment  instituting  that 
ordinance,  and  requiring  us  to  make  use  of  it.  Now, 

(1.)  Cornelius  gives  an  account  of  the  angel’s  ap¬ 
pearing  to  him,  and  ordering  him  to  send  for  Peter ; 
not  as  glorying  in  it,  but  as  that  which  warranted 
hjs  expectation  of  a  message  from  heaven  by  Peter. 

[1.  ]  He  tells.how  this  vision  found  him  employed  ; 
(y.  30.)  Four  days  ago  I  was  fasting  until  this  hour, 
this  hour  of  the  day  that  it  is  now  when  Peter  came, 
about  t,he  middle  of  the  afternoon.  By  this  it  appears 
that  religions  fasting,  in  order  to  the  greater  serious¬ 
ness  and  solemnity  of  praying,  was  used  by  devout 
people  that  were  not  Jews ;  the  king  of  A/ineveh 
proclaimed,  a  fast,  Jonah  3.  5.  Some  give  these 
words  another  sense.  From  four  days  ago  I  have 
been  fasting  until  this  hour  ;  as  if  he  had  eaten  no 
meat,  or  at  least  no  meal,  from  that  time  to  this. 
But  it  comes  in  as. an  introduction  to  the  story  of  the 
vision  ;  aiftl  therefore  the  former  must  be  the  mean¬ 
ing..  He  was  at  the  ninth  hour  praying  in  his  house, 
not  in  the  synagogue,  but  at  home.  Iwill  that  men 
pray,  wherever  they  dwell.  His  praying  in  his 
house  intimates  that  it  was  not  a  secret  prayer  in  his 
closet,  but  in  a  more  public  room  of  his  house,  with 
'  his  family  about  him  ;  and  perhaps  after  prayer  he 
retired,,  and  had  this  vision.  Observe,  At  the  ninth 
hour  of  the  day,  three  of  the  clock  in  the  afternoon, 
most  people  were  travelling  or  trading,  working  in 
the  fields,  visiting  their  friends,  taking  their  plea¬ 
sure,  or  taking  a  nap  after  dinner  ;  yet  then  Corne¬ 
lius  was  at  his  devotions ;  which  shews  how  much 
he  made  religion  his  business  ;  and  then  it  was  that 
he  had  this  message  from  heaven.  Those  that  would 
hear  comfortably  from  God,  must  be  much  in  speak¬ 
ing  to  him. 

'[2.]  He  describes  the  messenger  that  brought  him 
this  message  from  heaven  ;  There  stood  a  man  before 
me  in  bright  clothing;  such  as  Christ’s  was  when 
he  was  transfigured,  and  that  of  the  two  angels  who 
appeared  at  Christ’s  resurrection,  (Luke  24.  4.)  and 
at  his  ascension,  ( ch .  1.  10.)  shewing  their  relation 
to  the  world  of  light. 

[3.]  He  repeats  the  message  that  was  sent  him, 
(v.  31,  32.)  just  as  we  had  it,  v.  4 — 6.  Only  here 
it  is  said,  Thy  firayer  is  heard.  We  are  not  told 
what  his  prayer  was  ;  but  if  this  message  was  an 
answer  to  it,  and  it  should  seem  it  was,  we  may  sup¬ 
pose  that  finding  the  deficiency  of  natural  light,  and 
that  it  left  him  at  a  loss  how  to  obtain  the  pardon  of 
his  sin,  and  the  favour  of  God,  he  prayed  that  God 
would  make  some  further  discoveries  of  himself  to 
him,  and  of  the  way  of  salvation.  **  Well,”  saith 
the  angel,  “  send  for  Peter,  and  he  shall  give  thee 
such  a  discovery.” 

(2. )  He  declares  his  own  and  his  friends’  readi¬ 


ness  to  receive  the  message  he  had  to  deliver ;  (v 
33.)  Immediately  therefore  I  sent  to  thee,  as  I  was 
directed,  and  thou  hast  well  done  that  thou  hast 
come  to  us,  though  we  are  Gentiles.  Note,  Faithful 
ministers  do  well  to  come  to  people  that  are  willing 
and  desirous  to  receive  instruction  from  them  ;  to 
come  when  they  are  sent  for  ;  it  is  as  good  a  deed 
as  they  can  do. 

Well,  Peter  is  come  to  do  his  part ;  but  will  they 
do  their’s  ?  Yes.  Thou  art  here  prepared  to  speak, 
and  we  are  here  prepared  to  hear,  1  Sam.  3;  9,  10. 
Observe, 

[1.]  Their  religious  attendance  upon  the  word  ; 
“  We  are  all  here  present  before  God ;  we  are  here 
in  a  religious  manner,  are  here 'as  worshippers;” 
(they  thus  compose  themselves  into  a. serious,  awful 
frame  of  spirit ;)  “  therefore,  because  thou  art  come 
to  us  by  such  A  warrant,  on  such  an  errand,  because 
we  have  such  a  price  in  our  hand  as  we  never  had 
before,  and  perhaps  may  never  have  again,  we  are 
ready  now  at  this  time  of  worship,  here  in  this  place 
of  worship (though  it  was  in  a  private  house  ;) 
“we  are  present,  ■■ztrdftvy.tv — we  are  at  the  business, 
and  are  ready  to  come  at  a  call.”  If  we  would  have 
God’s  special  presence  at  an  ordinance,  we  must  be 
there  with  a  special  presence,  an  ordinance  presence ; 
Here  lam.  “  We  are  all  present,  all  that  Were  in¬ 
vited  ;  we,  and  all  that  belong  to  us  ;  we,  and  all 
that  is  within  us.”'  The  .whole  of  the  man  must  be 
present ;  not  the  body  here,  and  the  heart,  with  the 
fool’s  eyes,  in  the  ends  of  the  earth.  But  that  which 
makes  it  indeed  a  religious  attendance,  is,  We  are 
present  before  God.  In  holy  ordinances  we  present 
ourselves  unto  the  Lord,  and  we  -must  be  as  before 
him,  as  those  that  see  his  ey.e  upon  us. 

[2.]  The'intention  of  this  attendance  ;  “  We  are 
present  to  hear  all  things  that  are  commanded  thee 
of  God,  and  given  thee  in  charge  to  be  delivered  to 
us.  ”  Observe,  First,  Peter  was  there  to  preach  all 
things  that  were  commanded  him  of  God ;  for  as  he 
had  an  ample  commission  to  preach  the  gospel,  so 
he  had  full  instructions  what  to  preach.  Secondly, 
They  were  ready  to  hear,  not  whatever  he  pleased 
to  say,  but  what  he  was  commanded  of  God  to  say. 
The  truths  of  Christ  were  not  communicated  to  the 
apostles  to  be  published  or  stifled  as  they  thought  fit, 
but  intrusted  with  them  to  be  published  to  the  world. 
“  We  are  ready  to  hear  all,  to  come  at  the  begin¬ 
ning  of  the  service,  and  stay  to  the  end,  and  be  at¬ 
tentive  all  the  while,  else  how  can  we  hear  all?  We 
are  desirous  to  hear  all  that  thou  art  commissioned 
to  preach,  though  it  be  ever  so  displeasing  to  flesh 
and  blood,  and  ever  so  contrary  to  our  former  no¬ 
tions  or  present  secular  interests.  We  are  ready  to 
hear  all,  and  therefore  let  nothing  be  kept  back,  that 
is  profitable  for  us.  ” 

34.  Then  Peter  opened  his  mouth,  and 
said,  Of  a  truth  I  perceive  that  God  is  no 
respecter  of  persons :  35.  But  in  every 

nation  he  that  feareth  him,  and  worketh 
righteousness,  is  accepted  with  him.  36. 
The  word  which  God  sent  unto  the  children 
of  Israel,  preaching  peace  by  Jesus  Christ : 
(he  is  Lord  of  all :)  37.  That  word,  I scty, 

ye  know,  which  was  published  throughout 
all  Judea,  and  began  from  Galilee,  after 
the  baptism  which  John  preached;  38. 
How  God  anointed  Jesus  of  Nazareth  with 
the  Holy  Ghost,  and  with  power:  who 
went  about  doing  good,  and  healing  all  that 
were  oppressed  of  the  devil ;  for  God  was 
with  him.  39.  And  we  are  witnesses  of 


107 


THE  ACTS,  X. 


all  things  which  he  did,  both  in  the  land 
of  the  Jews,  and  in  Jerusalem ;  whom  they 
slew  and  hanged  on  a  tree  :  40.  Him  God 
raised  up  the  third  day,  and  shewed  him 
openly;  41.  Not  to  all  the  peQple,  but 
unto  witnesses  chosen  before  of  God,  even 
to  us,  who  did  eat  and  drink  with  him  after 
he  rose  from  the  dead.  42.  And  he  com¬ 
manded  us  to  preach  unto  the  people,  and 
to  testify  that  it  is  he  which  was  ordained 
of  God  to  be  the  Judge  of  quick  and  dead. 
43.  To  him  give  all  the  prophets  witness, 
that  through  his  name  whosoever  believeth 
in  him  shall  receive  remission  of  sins. 

We  have  here  Peter’s  sermon  preached  to  Cor¬ 
nelius  and  his  friends  :  that  is,  an  abstract  or  sum¬ 
mary  of  it ;  for  we  have  reason  to  think  that  he  did 
with  many  other  words  testify  and  exhort  to  this 
purport.  It  is  intimated,  that  he  delivered  himself 
with  a  great  deal  of  solemnity  and  gravity,  but  with 
freedom  and  copiousness,  in  that  phrase,  that  he 
ofiened  his  mouth  and  s/iake,  v.  34.  0  ye  Corin¬ 

thians,  our  mouth  is  open  to  you,  saith  Paul,  2  Cor. 
6.  11.  *#  You  shall  find  us  communicative,  if  we  but 
find  you  inquisitive.”  Hitherto  the  mouths  of  the 
apostles  had  been  shut  to  the  uncircumised  Gentiles, 
they  had  nothing  to  say  to  them  ;  but  now  God  gave 
unto  them,  as  he  did  to  Ezekiel,  the  opening  of  the 
mouth. 

This  excellent  sermon  of  Peter’s  is  admirably 
suited  to  the  circumstances  of  those  to  whom  he 
preached  it ;  for  it  was  a  new  sermon. 

I.  Because  they  were  Gentiles  to  whom  he  preach¬ 
ed  ;  he  shews  that,  notwithstanding  that,  they  were 
interested  in  the  gospel  of  Christ,  which  he  had  to 
preach,  and  entitled  to  the  benefit  of  it,  upon  an 
equal  foot  with  the  Jews.  It  was  necessary  that  this 
should  be  cleared,  or  else  with  what  comfort  could 
either  he  preach  or  they  hear  ?  He  therefore  lays 
down  this  as  an  undoubted  principle,  that  God  is  no 
respecter  of persons  ;  doth  not  know  favour  in  judg¬ 
ment,  as  the  Hebrew  phrase  is  ;  which  magistrates 
are  forbidden  to  do,  (Deut.  1.  17. — 16.  19.  Prov.  24. 
23. )  and  are  blamed  for  doing,  Ps.  82.  2.  And  it  is 
often  said  of  God,  that  he  doth  not  respect  persons, 
Deut.  10.  17.  2  Chron.  19.  7.  Job  34.  19.  Rom.  2, 
11.  Col.  3.  25.  1  Pet.  1.  17.  He  doth  not  give  judg¬ 
ment  in  favour  of  a  man,  for  the  sake  of  any  external 
advantage  foreign  to  the  merits  of  the  cause.  God 
never  perverts  judgment  upon  personal  regards  ahd 
considerations,  nor  countenances  a  wicked  man  in 
a  wicked  thing,  for  the  sake  of  his  beauty,  or  stature, 
his  country,  parentage,  relations,  wealth  or  honour 
in  the  world.  God,  as  a  Benefactor,  gives  favours 
arbitrarily  and  by  sovereignty,  (Deut.  7.  7,  8. — 9.  5, 
6.  Matt.  20.  10.)  but  he  does  not,  as  a  Judge,  so 
give  sentence ;  but  in  every  nation,  and  under  every 
denomination,  he  that  fears  God,  and  works  righte¬ 
ousness  is  accepted  of  him,  v.  35. 

The  case  is  plainly  thus  : 

1.  God  never  did,  nor  ever  will,  justify  and  save  a 
wicked  Jew  that  lived  and  died  impenitent,  though 
he  was  of  the  seed  of  Abraham,  and  a  Hebrew  of  the 
Hebrews,  and  had  all  the  honour  and  advantages 
attended  circumcision.  He  does  and  will  ren¬ 
der  indignation  and  wrath,  tribulation  and  anguish, 
upon  eatery  soul  of  man  that  doeth  evil ;  and  of  the 
Jew  first ;  whose  privileges  and  professions,  instead 
of  screening  him  from  the  judgment  of  God,  will 
but  aggravate  his  guilt  and  condemnation.  See  Rom. 
2.  3,  8,  9,  17.  Though  God  has  favoured  the  Jews, 
above  other  nations,  with  the  dignities  of  visible 


church-membership,  yet  he  will  not  therefore  ac¬ 
cept  of  any  particular  persons  of  that  dignity,  if  they 
allow  themselves  in  immoralities  contradictory  to 
their  profession  ;  and  particularly  in  persecution, 
which  was  now,  more  than  any  other,  the  national 
sin  of  the  Jews. 

2.  He  never  did,  nor  ever  will,  reject  or  refuse  an 
honest  Gentile,  who,  though  Tie  has  not  the  privi¬ 
leges  and  advantages  that  the  Jews  have,  yet,  like 
Cornelius,  fears  God,  and  worships  him,  and  works 
righteousness,  is  just  and  charitable  towards  all  men, 
who  lives  up  to  the  light  he  has,  both  in  a  sincere 
devotion,  and  in  a  regular  conversation,  whatever 
nation  he  is  of,  though  ever  so  far  remote  from  kin¬ 
dred  to  the  seed  of  Abraham  ;  though  ever  so  despi¬ 
cable,  nay  though  in  ever  so  ill  a  name,  that  shall 
be  no  prejudice  to  him.  God  judges  of  men  by  their 
hearts,  not  bv  th«ir  country  or  parentage  ;  and 
wherever  he  finds  an  upright  man,  he  will  be  found 
an  upright  God;  Ps.  18.  25.  Observe,  Fearing  God, 
and  working  righteousness,  must  go  together ;  for 
as  righteousness  toward  men  is  a  branch  of  true  re¬ 
ligion,  so  religion  toward  God  is  a  branch  of  univer¬ 
sal  righteousness.  Godliness  and  honesty  must  go 
together,  and  neither  will  excuse  for  the  want  of  the 
other.  But  where  these  are  predominant,  no  doubt 
is  to  be  macle  of  acceptance  with  God.  Not  that 
any  man,  since  the  fall,  can  obtain  the  favour  of 
God,  otherwise  than  through  the  mediation  of  Jesus 
Christ,  and  by  the  grace  of  God  in  him  ;  but  those 
that  have  not  the  knowledge  of  him,  and  therefore 
cannot  have  an  explicit  regard  to  him,  may  yet  re¬ 
ceive  grace  from  God  for  his  sake,  to  fear  God,  and 
to  work  righteousness ;  and  wherever  God  gives 
grace  to  do  so,  as  he  did  to  Cornelius,  he  will, 
through  Christ  accept  the  work  of  his  own  hands. 

Now,  (1.)  This  was  always  a  truth,  before  Peter 
perceived  it,  that  God  respecteth  no  man's  person  ; 
it  was  the  fixed  rule  of  judgment  from  the  beginning ; 
If  thou  doest  well,  shalt  thou  not  be  accepted  ?  And 
if  not  well,  sin,  and  the  punishment  of  it,  lies  at  the 
door,  Gen.  4.  7.  God  will  not  ask  in  the  great  day 
what  country  men  were  of,  but  what  they  were, 
what  they  did,  and  how  they  stood  .affected  toward 
him  and  toward  their  neighbours  ;  and  if  men’s 
personal  characters  received  neither  advantage  nor 
disadvantage  from  the  great  difference  that  was  be¬ 
tween  Jews  and  Gentiles,  much  less  from  any  lesser 
difference  of  sentiments  and  practices  that  may  hap  ¬ 
pen  to  be  among  Christians  themselves,  as  those 
about  meats  and  days,  Rom.- 14.  It  is  certain,  the 
kingdom  of  God  is  not  meat  and  drink,  but  righte¬ 
ousness  and  peace,  and  joy  in  the  Holy  Ghost ;  and 
he  that  in  these  things  serveth  Christ,  is  accepted 
of  God,  and  ought  to  be  approved  of  men ;  for  dare 
we  reject  those  whom  God  doth  not  ? 

(2.)  Yet  now  it  was  made  more  clear  than  it  had 
been  ;  this  great  truth  had  been  darkened  by  the 
covenant  of  peculiarity  made  with  Israel,  and  the 
badges  of  distinction  put  upon  them  ;  the  ceremo¬ 
nial  law  was  a  wall  of  partition  between  them  and 
other  nations  ;  in  it,  it  was  true  that  God  favoured 
that  nation,  (Rom.  3.  1,  2. — 9.  4.)  and  from  thence 
particular  persons  among  them  were  ready  to  infer, 
that  they  were  sure  of  God’s  acceptance,  though 
they  lived  as  they  listed  ;  and  that  no  Gentile  could 
possibly  be  accepted  of  God.  God  had  said  a  gieat 
deal  by  the  prophets  to  prevent  and  rectify  this  mis¬ 
take,  but  now  at  length  he  doth  it  effectually,  by 
abolishing  the  covenant  of  peculiarity,  and  repeal¬ 
ing  the  ceremonial  law,  and  so  setting  the  matter  at 
large,  and  both  Jew^ind  Gentile  upon  the  same  level 
before  God  ;  and  Peter  is  here  made  to  perceive  it, 
by  comparing  the  vision  which  he  had  with  that 
which  Cornelius  had.  Now  in  Christ  Jesus,  it  is 
plain,  neither  circumcision  availeth  any  thing,  nor 
uncircumcision.  Gal.  5.  6.  Col.  3.  11. 


108 


THE  ACTS,  X. 


II.  Because  they  were  Gentiles  inhabiting  a  place 
within  the  confines  of  the  land  of  Israel,  he  refers 
them  to  what  they  themselves  could  not  but  know 
concerning  the  life  and  doctrine,  the  preaching  and 
miracles,  the  death  and  sufferings  of  our  Lord  Jesus ; 
for  these  were  things  the  report  of  which  spread 
into  every  corner  of  the  nation,  v.  37,  & c.  It  facili¬ 
tates  the  work  of  ministers,  when  they  deal  with 
such  as  have  some  knowledge  of  the  things  of  God, 
to  which  they  may  appeal,  and  on  which  they  may 
build. 

1.  They  knew  in  general  the  word,  that  is,  the 
gospel,  which  God  sent  to  the  children  of  Israel. 
That  word,  I  say,  ye  know,  v.  37.  Though  the 
Gentiles  were  not  admitted  to  hear  it,  (Christ  and 

•  his  disciples  were  not  sent  but  to  the  lost  sheefi  of  the 
hottse  of  Israel , )  yet  they  could  not  but  hear  of  it,  it 
was  all  the  talk  both  of  city  ai^d  country.  We  are 
often  told  in  the  gospels,  how  the  fame  of  Christ 
went  into  all  parts  of  Canaan,  when  he  was  on 
earth,  as  afterward  the  fame  of  his  gospel  went  into 
all  parts  of  the  world,  Rom.  10.  18.  That  word, 
that  divine  word,  that  word  of  power  and  grace, 
you  know.  (1. )  What  the  purport  of  this  word  was. 
God  by  it  published  the  good  tidings  of  peace  by  Je¬ 
sus  Christ,  so  it  should  be  read  ;  tua.yyt\t^i>y.tv®j 
itpwHv.  It  is  God  himself  that  proclaims  peace,  who 
justly  might  have  proclaimed  war ;  he  lets  the  world 
of  mankind  know  that  he  is  willing  to  be  at  peace 
with  them  through  Jesus  Christ ;  in  him  he  was  re¬ 
conciling  the  world  to  himself.  (2. )  To  whom  it  was 
sent ;  to  the  children  of  Israel,  in  the  first  place, 
the  prime  offer  is  made  to  them  ;  this  all  their 
neighbours  heard  of,  and  were  ready  to  envy  them 
those  advantages  of  the  gospel,  more  than  thev  ever 
envied  them  those  of  their  law.  Then  said  they 
among  the  heathen.  The  Lord  hath  done  great  things 
for  them,  Ps.  126.  3. 

2.  They  knew  the  several  matters  of  fact  relating 
to  this  word  of  the  gospel  sent  to  Israel. 

(1.)  They  knew  the  baptism  of  repentance  which 
John  preached  by  way  of  introduction  to  it,  and  in 
which  the  gospel  first  began,  Mark  1.  1.  They 
knew  what  an  extraordinary  man  John  was,  and 
what  a  direct  tendency  his  preaching  had  to  prepare 
the  way  of  the  Lord.  They  knew  what  great  flock¬ 
ing  there  was  to  his  baptism,  what  an  interest  he 
had,  and  what  he  did. 

(2.)  They  knew  that  immediately  after  John’s 
baptism  the  gospel  of  Christ,  that  word  of  peace, 
was  published  throughout  all  Judea,  and  that  it 
took  rise  from  Galilee.  The  twelve  apostles,  and 
seventy  disciples,  and  our  Master  himself,  published 
these  glad  tidings  in  all  parts  of  the  land  ;  so  that 
we  may  suppose  there  was  not  a  town  or  village  in 
all  the  land  of  Canaan,  but  had  had  the  gospel 
preached  in  it. 

(3.)  They  knew  that  Jesus  of  JVazareth,  when  he 
was  here  upon  earth,  went  about  doing  good.  They 
knew  what  a  Benefactor  he  was  to  that  nation,  both 
to  the  souls  and  the  bodies  of  men  ;  how  he  made  it 
his  business  to  do  good  to  all,  and  never  did  hurt  to 
any.  He  was  not  idle,  but  still  doing  ;  not  selfish, 
but  doing  good  ;  did  not  confine  himself  to  one  place  ; 
nor  wait  till  people  came  to  him  to  seek  his  help  ; 
but  he  went  to  them,  went  about  from  place  to  place, 
and  wherever  he  came  he  was  doing  good.  Hereby 
he  shewed  that  he  was  sent  of  God,  who  is  good 
and  doeth  good ;  and  therefore  doeth  good,  because 
he  is  good  :  and  who  hereby  left  not  himself  without 
witness  to  the  world,  in  that  he  did  good,  ch.  14.  17. 
And  in  this  he  hath  set  us  an  ^cample  of  indefatiga¬ 
ble  industry  in  serving  God  and  our  generation  ;  for 
therefore  we  came  into  the  world,  that  we  may  do 
all  the  good  we  can  in  it ;  and  therein,  like  Christ, 
we  must  always  abide  and  abound. 

(4. )  They  knew  more  particularly  that  he  healed 


all  that  were  oppressed  of  the  devil,  and  helped  them 
from  under  his  oppressing  power  :  by  this  it  ap¬ 
peared  not  only  that  he  was  sent  of  God,  as  it  was  a 
kindness  to  men  ;  but  that  he  was  sent  to  destroy  the 
works  of  the  devil ;  for  thus  he  obtained  many  a 
victory  over  him. 

(3.)  They  knew  that  the  Jews  put  him  to  death  ; 
they  slew  him  by  hanging  him  on  a  tree.  When 
Peter  preached  to  the  Jews,  he  said,  whom  ye  slew  ; 
but  now  that  he  preached  to  the  Gentiles,  it  is  whom 
they  slew  ;  they  to  whom  he  had  done  and  designed 
so  much  good. 

All  this  they  knew  ;  but  lest  they  should  think  it 
was  only  a  report,  and  was  magnified,  as  reports 
usually  are,  more  than  the  truth  ;  Peter,  for  him¬ 
self  and  the  rest  of  the  apostles,  attests  it ;  (v.  39.) 
We  are  witnesses,  eye-witnesses,  of  all  things  which 
he  did  ;  and  ear-witnesses  of  the  doctrine  which  he 
preached,  both  in  the  land  of  the  Jews  and  in  Jeru¬ 
salem,  in  city  and  country. 

3.  They  did  know,  or  might  know,  by  all  this, 
that  he  had  a  commission  from  heaven  to  preach 
and  act  as  he  did.  This  he  still  harps  upon  in  his 
discourse,  and  takes  all  occasions  to  hint  it  to  them. 
Let  them  know, 

(1.)  That  this  Jesus  is  Lord  of  all ;  it  comes  in 
in  a  parenthesis,  but  is  the  principal  proposition  in¬ 
tended  to  be  proved,  that  Jesus  Christ,  by  whom 
peace  is  made  between  God  and  man,  is  Lord  of  all ; 
not  only  as  God  over  all  blessed  for  evermore,  but 
as  Mediator,  all  power  both  in  heaven  and  in  earth 
is  put  into  his  hand,  and  all  judgment  committed  to 
him.  He  is  Lord  of  angels,  they  are  all  his  humble 
servants.  He  is  Lord  of  the  powers  of  darkness, 
for  he  hath  triumphed  over  them.  He  is  King  of 
nations,  has  a  power  over  all  flesh  ;  he  is  King  of 
saints,  all  the  children  of  God  are  his  scholars,  his 
subjects,  his  soldiers. 

(2.)  That  God  anointed  him  with  the  Holy  Ghost 
and  with  power ,  he  was  both  authorized  and  enabled 
to  do  what  he  did  by  a  divine  anointing  ;  whence  he 
was  called  Christ — the  Messiah — the  Anointed  One. 
The  Holy  Ghost  descended  upon  him  at  his  bap¬ 
tism,  and  he  was  full  of  power  both  in  preaching 
and  working  miracles,  which  was  the  seal  of  a  di¬ 
vine  mission. 

(3.)  That  God  was  with  him,  v.  38.  His  works 
were  wrought  in  God  ;  God  not  only  sent  him,  but 
was  present  with  him  all  along,  owned  him,  stood 
by  him,  and  carried  him  on  in  all  his  services  and 
sufferings.  Note,  Those  whom  God  anoints  he  will 
accompany  ;  he  will  himself  be  with  those  to  whom 
he  has  given  his  Spirit. 

III.  Because  they  had  heard  no  more  for  certain 
concerning  this  Jesus,  Peter  declares  to  them  his 
resurrection  from  the  dead,  and  the  proofs  of  it,  that 
they  might  not  think  that  when  he  was  slain  tnere 
was  an  end  of  him. 

Probably,  they  had  heard  at  Cesarea  some  talk 
of  his  being  risen  from  the  dead  ;  but  the  talk  of  it 
was  soon  silenced  by  that  vile  suggestion  of  the  Jews, 
that  his  disciples  came  by  night  and  stole  him  away. 
And  therefore  Peter  insists  upon  this  as  the  main 
support  of  that  word  which  preacheth  peace  by 
Jesus  Christ. 

1.  The  power  by  which  he  rose,  is  incontestably 
divine,  (x>.  40.)  Him  God  raised  up  the  third  day  ; 
which  not  only  disproved  all  the  calumnies  and  ac¬ 
cusations  he  was  laid  under  by  men,  but  effectually 
proved  God’s  acceptance  of  the  satisfaction  he  made 
for  the  sin  of  man  by  the  blood  of  his  cross.  He  did 
not  break  prison,  but  had  a  legal  discharge.  God 
raised  him  up. 

2.  The  proofs  of  his  resurrection  were  incontesta¬ 

bly  clear ;  for  God  shewed  him  openly.  He  gave 
him  to  be  made  manifest — tJccKtv  eu^stvii  }«vfV8*/, 

to  be  visible,  evidently  so  ;  so  he  appears,  as  that  it 


THE  AC 

appears  beyond  contradiction  to  be  He,  and  not  ano¬ 
ther.  Tt  was  such  a  shewing  of  him  as  amounted 
to  a  demonstration  of  the  truth  of  his  resurrection. 
He  shewed  him  not  publicly  indeed,  (it  was  not 
open  in  that  sense,)  but  evidently  ;  not  to  all  the 
people,  who  had  been  the  witnesses  of  his  death  ; 
by  resisting  all  the  evidences  he  had  given  them  of 
his  divine  mission  in  his  miracles,  they  had  forfeited 
the  favour  of  being  eye-witnesses  of  this  great  proof 
of  it ;  they  who  immediately  forged  and  promoted 
that  lie  of  his  being  stolen  away,  were  justly  given 
up  to  strong  delusions  to  believe  it,  and  not  suf¬ 
fered  to  be  undeceived  by  his  being  shewn  to  all  the 
people  ;  and  so  much  the  greater  shall  be  the  bless¬ 
edness  of  those  who  have  not  seen,  and  yet  have 
believed.  JVec  ille  se  in  vulgus  edixit,  ne  impii  er- 
rore,  liberarentur  ;  Jit  et  Jides  non  prxmio  mediocri 
destinato  diffcultate  constaret — He  shewed  not  him¬ 
self  to  the  people  at  large,  lest  the  impious  among 
them  should  have  been  forthwith  loosed  from  their 
error,  and  that  faith,  the  reward  of  which  is  so  am¬ 
ple,  might  be  exercised  with  a  degree  of  difficulty. 
Tertulhani  Apologia,  cap.  11.  But  though  all  the 
people  did  not  see  him,  a  sufficient  number  saw  him, 
to  attest  the  truth  of  his  resurrection  ;  the  testator’s 
declaring  his  last  will  and  testament  needs  not  to  be 
before  all  the  people,  it  is  enough  that  it  be  done 
before  a  competent  number  of  credible  witnesses  ; 
so  the  resurrection  of  Christ  was  proved  before  suf¬ 
ficient  witnesses.  (1.)  They  were  not  so  by  chance, 
but  they  were  chosen  before  of  God  to  be  witnesses 
of  it,  and,  in  order  to  that,  had  their  education  under 
the  Lord  Jesus,  and  intimate  converse  with  him; 
that,  having  known  him  so  intimately  before,  they 
might  the  better  be  assured  it  was  he.  (2.)  They 
had  not  a  sudden  and  transient  view  of  him,  but  a 
great  deal  of  free  conversation  with  him  ;  they  did 
eat  and  drink  with  him  after  he  rose  from  the  dead. 
This  implies  that  they  saw  him  eat  and  drink,  wit¬ 
ness  their  dining  with  him  at  the  sea  of  Tiberias, 
and  the  two  disciples  supping  with  him  at  Emmaus ; 
and  this  proved  that  he  had  a  true  and  real  body. 
But  this  was  not  all,  they  saw  him  without  any  ter¬ 
ror  or  consternation,  which  might  have  rendered 
them  incompetent  witnesses,  for  they  saw  him  so 
frequently,  and  he  conversed  with  them  so  fami¬ 
liarly,  that  they  did  eat  and  drink  with  him.  It  is 
brought  as  a  proof  of  the  clear  view  which  the  no¬ 
bles  of  Israel  had  of  the  glory  of  God,  (Exod.  24. 
11.)  that  they  saw  God,  and  did  eat  and  drink. 

IV.  He  concludes  with  an  inference  from  all  this, 
that  therefore  that  which  they  all  ought  to  do,  was, 
to  believe  in  this  Jesus  :  he  was  sent  to  tell  Cornelius 
what  he  must  do,  and  this  is  it ;  his  praying  and  his 
giving  alms  were  very  well,  but  one  thing  he  lacked, 
he  must  believe  in  Christ.  Observe, 

1.  Why  he  must  believe  in  him  ;  faith  has  refer¬ 
ence  to  a  testimony,  and  the  Christian  faith  is  built 
upon  the  foundation  of  the  apostles  and  prophets,  it 
is  built  upon  the  testimony  given  by  them. 

(1.)  By  the  apostles.  Peter  as  foreman  speaks 
for  the  rest,  that  God  commanded  them,  and  gave 
them  in  charge  to  preach  to  the  people,  and  to  testify 
concerning  Christ ;  so  that  their  testimony  was  not 
only  credible,  but  authentic,  and  what  we  may  ven¬ 
ture  upon.  Their  testimony  is  God’s  testimony  ; 
and  they  are  his  witnesses  to  the  world  ;  they  do  not 
only  say  it  as  matter  of  news,  but  testify  it  as  matter 
of  record,  by  which  men  must  be  judged. 

(2.)  By  the  prophets  of  the  Old  Testament ; 
whose  testimony  beforehand,  not  only  concerning 
his  sufferings,  but  concerning  the  design  and  inten¬ 
tion  of  them,  very  much  corroborates  the  apostles’ 
testimony  concerning  them  ;  (x'.  43.)  To  him  give 
all  the  prophets  witness.  We  have  reason  to  think 
that  Cornelius  and  his  friends  were  no  strangers  to 
the  writings  of  the  prophets.  Out  of  the  mouth  of 


TS,  X.  109 

these  two  clouds  of  witnesses,  so  exactly  agreeing, 
this  word  is  established. 

2.  What  they  must  believe  concerning  him, 

(1.)  That  we  are  all  accountable  to  Christ  as  our 
Judge  ;  this  the  apostles  were  commanded  to  testify 
to  the  world  ;  that  this  Jesus  is  ordained  of  God  to 
be  the  Judge  of  the  quick  and  dead,  v.  42.  He  is 
empowered  to  prescribe  the  terms  of  salvation,  that 
rule  by  which  we  must  be  judged  ;  to  give  laws  both 
to  quick  and  dead,  both  to  Jew  and  Gentile ;  and  he 
is  appointed  to  determine  the  everlasting  condition 
of  all  the  children  of  men  at  the  great  day  ;  of  those 
that  shall  be  found  alive,  and  of  those  that  shall  be 
raised  from  the  dead.  He  hath  assured  us  of  this, 
in  that  he  hath  raised  him  from  the  dead,  ( ch .  17.  31. ) 
so  that  it  is  the  great  concern  of  every  one  of  us,  in 
the  belief  of  this,  to  seek  his  favour,  and  to  make 
him  our  Friend. 

(2.)  That  if  we  believe  in  him,  we  shall  all  be 
justified  by  him  as  our  Righteousness,  v.  43.  The 
prophets,  when  they  spake  of  the  death  of  Christ, 
did  witness  this,  that  through  his  name,  for  his  sake, 
and  upon  the  account  of  his  merit,  whosoever  be- 
lieveth  in  him,  Jew  or  Gentile,  shall  receive  remission 
of  sins.  That  is  the  great  thing  we  need,  without 
which  we  are  undone,  and  which  the  convinced 
conscience  is  most  inquisitive  after,  which  the  carnal 
Jews  promised  themselves  from  their  ceremonial 
sacrifices  and  purifications,  yea,  and  the  heathen 
too  from  their  atonements,  but  all  in  vain  ;  it  is  to 
be  had  only  through  the  name  of  Christ,  and  only  by 
those  that  believe  in  his  name  ;  and  they  that  do  so, 
may  be  assu